The bulk of my post regards the 'Iraq Patrol Incident' yesterday. I seem to have offended Beta, someone who I have counted as a friend since my PR days, by my conduct as an insurgent sniper. Scope shut down the 'debate' but it appears there was an AO restriction on that mission which was visible to BLUFOR, something along the lines of 'Combat doesn't start until the Americans get inside of town and the insurgents aren't allowed outside of town'. Of course if a mission has rules like this I obey them, provided I am made aware of them. Unfortunately the Independant side has no briefing, tasks, notes, map, compass, nothing. You simply spawn near a water tower with some boxes of guns and have to orienteer what direction north is. I gathered from conversations with teammates that the objective was to 'defend the ammo cache', which was funny because we had no way of knowing where that cache was, unless it happened to be the three boxes at our feet in the middle of an open field next to an easily recognized landmark. Now this isn't a jab at the mission maker, aside from the technical detail that I had no briefing I have no objective complaints. Subjectively I feel that an insurgent character should always get a map since he's likely in his own home town. Additionally I find 'ammo cache' missions to be tired from a gameplay perspective, although alternatives aren't readily accepted or exactly easy to do.

But that's just one architect thinking another architect uses too much brick and not enough glass. What was a solid, concrete problem was that Blufor was operating under one set of rules, and Independants had no rules whatsoever. This is a foundational problem with the building and not just aesthetics. Scope laid out three ground rules for us; No griefing (and he announced he would be judge, jury and legislative branch regarding what was griefing), Try not to kill civilians, and the Insurgents had five minutes to set up. Well, having no idea what I should be defending and thus setting up around, I proceeded to swap out my AKM for an SKS and go play sniper. And since I had five minutes to set up, I made a dash northwest, hoping to catch the enemy before they got into town.

I picked a roof to set up on with a waist-high parapet wall, a backdrop to conceal my profile and a ramp that exited away from the enemy. Then I simply set up watching the gate. I didn't know if Scope had already released the hounds and I was watching an empty base, and I also didn't know if there were going to be snipers up on the tower waiting for me. I was very sincerely concerned I was walking into an M24 scope as I climbed my ramp. There was also the possibility the enemy would roll out in a Stryker or a Bradley or an M1024 and I'd be SOL with my semi-automatic, intermediate powered stripper-clip fed carbine. But nothing like that happened. Blufor just walked out, single file, like schoolkids going to recess.

I've read that the Marines have saying, 'Fire without maneuver is wasteful, and maneuver without fire is suicide'. Under this logic, walking down a road in a close order file with no overwatch is taking a bath in a toaster factory. Now to the other team, perhaps it made sense. They were just going to walk into the AO that they could see on their maps and start in earnest once they'd crossed the magical line. But I had no idea any such rule existed. I just knew I wasn't allowed to grief. But maybe my CO knew better than I did. So I reported the contact. And I believe it was Soupy Norman who told me to shoot.

With a PKM, the round would have ended here in a bloody mess. However I had downgraded to an SKS and recall thinking, 'Well at least this way it will be fair'. I dumped the magazine at them and immediately broke off, scurrying down the ramp in a most tactical fashion to find a second firing position. Meanwhile cries of 'Who was that camping the gate' broke out. I'm not used to hearing people use the expression 'camping' in a gaming community where we actually had a map involving digging holes and planting mines for a solid hour before the enemy starts assaulting the positions. I was honestly disappointed to hear it. Not only did the enemy walk in single file down a road toward a sprawling array of sniper nests, but they did it without any overwatch, recon, smoke cover and were going to complain that a sniper shot them.

Apparently I wasn't the only one disobeying the 'rules'. Another insurgent set up in the minaret south of the FOB and started firing while I relocated, turning my one-off 'get off my goat pasture' into a full-blown L-shaped ambush. This became a point of contest as well. Blufor began assaulting the minaret (possibly thinking I was there) to their south while I proceeded to give some flanking fires into the backs of Blufor. I kept wheeling around to the north, firing directly into the backs of the US formation although exposing myself as I crossed increasingly larger open spaces. One guy in the sniper towers could have offed me easily, but Blufor had not posted any. Someone started running back toward the gate again, and I waited for him to get close enough to ensure a kill. By now, ammunition became a distinct pain to me very quickly. Just one AK magazine contained three times the ammo of my magazines, and half of my inventory consisted of hand grenades. Obviously I needed a new weapon. But where?

Oh yeah, that guy I just shot. Since Blufor clearly wasn't watching their six, I dashed up, grabbed his M16A4, and was presented with a moral quandary. Do I go for broke, enter the FOB, steal a humvee or an AT4 or who knows what and just run right up behind Blufor and cut them down? Or do I assume the FOB is off limits and head back into town?

Going into the FOB would definately be griefing. I went back into town and found the US troops thanks to their lack of noise discipline over VON and took out three guys before Scope declared a 'Blufor Victory' on account of having destroyed the cache. Thats the main reason I dislike cache missions; phyrric victories don't count. Even with half his force dead, blowing up a box of 7.62 ammo meant all's well. If Scope attempted to exfiltrate the town, I dare say it would make the evening news.

Now, from where I stand, I played the perfect insurgent sniper. I fought earnestly, I didn't gamble with my life, I didn't kill civilians, I supported my team and solved my supply problems by taking a trophy rifle. From where I stand there were no rules regarding when and where I was allowed to shoot, because nothing of the sort was in the independant briefing. From where I stand it was a complete surprise that Blufor would cover their blunder with the fig leaf of 'camping the gate wasn't allowed'. Instead of blaming me for doing my job, they should focus on learning how to do theirs.

This raises two points.

1. In TvT, never maneuver without security in the face of the enemy, even for the first step. It should go without saying, but players tend to relax until the shooting starts. Remember that if you give the other team five minutes to set up and they're a four minute jog away, you should expect the path from your tent to the porta-john claymore'd. A good example was a sniper watching the base exit. A good solution is to post sentries on the FOB towers to spot any snipers getting set up and use vehicles or a dead sprint to cross the danger area between the FOB and the town. Never, never walk down a road in close order through an open field!

2. In TvT, fight earnestly. Shoot the squad leader in the chest, shoot the medic in the head and shoot the rest in the leg to let them bleed to death crawling away. If you expect mercy you'll be sorely disappointed, but if you expect none and give none you'll never be arguing with another person over proper conduct or have a reason to complain yourself. A good example of not fighting earnestly was BLUFOR operating under gentleman's rules, while the insurgents neither knew what the rules were nor would have been inclined to follow them in the first place. This resulted in conflict when the 'rules' were 'broken' by earnestly fighting insurgents. This only resulted in bruised egos and a really, really long blog post.

"Gentlemen of the French Guard, perhaps you would care to fire first?" - Commander of the British Guards, Battle of Fontenoy.
"Gentlemen, we never fire first, fire yourselves." - Count d'Anterroches, Commander of the French Guard, Opposing.