My Experience at Stagops Milsim Events
Lets talk about the last Season 1 event I went to up north. The Stagops Spring Offensive, was it worth the drive? How does it stack up to other milsim events? Keep reading to find out more.
Milsim is a growing community in the northeast, in fact, according to C3 Airsoft, the Northeast has one of the biggest Airsoft communities in the country. Some would suggest that this is due to the heavy gun control legislation in the northeastern states; New York, New Jersey, etc.
When it comes to quality events only a few organizations standout. I will rank these organizations based on a couple different things: Organization, Gameplay, Ruleset, Immersion, and Crowd. "But Austin! What about the field!?", fields play an important part, but its the player, not the airsoft gun that wins the game. So fields will be left out of this equation, a good organization will make a great event anywhere. Within each category I will assign points; 0 points being terrible and 5 points being near perfect. The last rating is the BlueMag Airsoft (BMA) rating, which rates from 1-10, 1 being the worst and 10 being the best.
Why these categories?
Organization is one of the fundamental elements of any event host. If they can not control the chaos of 600 players, then the event will fall apart. Somebody has to remain in control.
Gameplay is at the core of Airsoft. Complicated gameplay? Players get annoyed and start doing whatever they want, ignoring any and every rule. Under Complicated? Players get bored with nothing to do and start doing whatever they want. Just right? Players enjoy a balance of combat and being bored (being bored is sometimes ok in 95 degree weather!).
Ruleset also plays a role with Gameplay. If the rules are too strict, nobody has fun. There has to be a balance.
Immersion is key to feeling like you are really in the Sh*t with the boys (and girls). Nobody wants to be yelled at for not calling their hits. It takes you out of a firefight and brings you back to reality; "Oh right, these are just BB guns.."
"Nobody wants to be yelled at for not calling their hits. It takes you out of a firefight and brings you back to reality; "Oh right, these are just BB guns.."
Speaking of calling other players hits, nobody likes a bad Crowd of people at an Airsoft event. Some events I have been to I have never had a problem. Others, I get yelled at for over shooting and having a bad attitude. Nobody is trying to overshoot you, it just so happens you have 6 other team members trying to revive you. Sometimes venues draw in some real jerks. First, let's go over the equipment I am wearing.
Kit Overview (with links)
The primary replica for this event is a Custom G&G M4 with a Polarstar Jack. This machine is a Frankenstein. If I wanted to tell you all the parts, I couldn't, there are several parts from several rifles. It's reliable and has an upgraded hop-up for precision. Light and fast, It was the right choice.
Links: Polarstar Jack https://amzn.to/3xD2YRV
Eliteforce Glock: https://amzn.to/3d40QLR
Kit (top to bottom)
For my helmet I am wearing the LOOGU Fast Helmet with an Ex Fog unit and Oakley Photochromic (Transition lenses) Anzi Rated Eye Pro. I also have Oakley printed inserts for direct integration with the Ex Fog. I met a guy who makes them at a Milsim West event, but lost his number! So I couldn't tell you where to buy. The LOOGU Helmet is a little pricier than most Fast Helmets, but it's worth it. It integrates great with GoPro Mounts and has a good retention system. If you don’t have an Ex Fog system, you will fog up and be blind all day. That is a fact. I have two of these units just in case one breaks, they are a must have
For GoPro HERO9 Mounts I have a Rail DOGZ 3-Prong; this attachment has never failed me and has an easy detachment knob that fits snug on the rails. For my Helmet I have an Aluminum NVG Helmet Mount; it also has never failed me. Very strong stays in place. My RunCam is the RunCam Scope 2; very strong camera, never had an issue.
For my body armor I am wearing a OneTigris AFPC and standard mag pouches. My camo is a traditional MARPAT Straight from my prior service Marine co-workers closet.
On my feet are the Merrell MOAB 2 Mids; never let me down, very comfy, wore them overseas, and highly reliable.
Ex Fog: https://amzn.to/3U4E47h
LOOGU Helmet: https://amzn.to/3U5KEdM Oakley’s: https://amzn.to/3RVfdAR
GoPro HERO9: https://amzn.to/3L3HFyi
Runcam Scope 2: https://amzn.to/3qvBOsc
Head Mount: https://amzn.to/3xfOEyd
Rifle Mount: https://amzn.to/3L3HLWG
OneTigris AFPC: https://amzn.to/3BxNYaf
Condor Triple Mag: https://amzn.to/3eJ7c3F
Merrell MOAB 2: https://amzn.to/3QIWF60
PEQ 15: https://amzn.to/3RTmqkJ
IR Strobe: https://amzn.to/3RY8PJg
Strap in, let's get started with Stagops
For Season 1's last event I had the opportunity to do a weekend in Massachusetts with one of our partner teams Next Evolution Tacticians. They were friendly, hospitable, and welcomed me like part of the family. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable arriving at a foreign venue not knowing anyone and trying to fit it. Always nice to feel at home!
This was the Stagops Spring Offensive hosted in May of 2022. It was the start of the summer and it was expected to be 95 degrees over the weekend. Regardless, the event carried on. We started in the early morning and right off the bat, the venue lost some points in the Organization category; the chrono lines were terrible. They had 2 chrono units and over 500 players to chrono. Most people arrived Friday night and already took care of registration, but as usual most people don't have the time to get in on Friday.
"Right off the bat, the venue lost some points in the Organization category; the chrono lines were terrible.."
The Registration lines were fine and it moved quickly. I was greeted by friendly staff who gave me a bunch of stickers and patches for our team. Later we had a formation where the teams organized according to Platoon, Squad, and Team. We were in no kit for this formation? Later, we had another formation, where we actually got all of our gear in order and headed out to the forward operating base.
For Organization, Stagops gets a 4.
Why a 4?
Chrono lines and pointless formations standing in the sun make me want to explode. It reminds me of my days in the Army - dumb. However, they had friendly staff, pre-filled waivers, and gave us plenty of time to prep.
After arriving at our forward operating base we got some orders to secure a hilltop. Easy enough. Orders came down smooth through the radio; they were simple and not over complicated. Most of the weekend went like this, with very few moments of stagnation. However, the tempo was quite high. There was not a lot of time to rest and recover in 95 degree heat. This led to high dropout rates, ambulances were coming and going all day. Ever feel like you are sprinting the marathon instead of jogging? Some events run like this. It's 100 miles per hour for the entire event and with all that gear on, you are not making it. You need to rest, eat, and drink water. A nice steady pace will win the war.
For Gameplay, Stagops gets a 4.
Why a 4?
High dropout rates are indicative of the tempo being too high. Not giving people a chance to catch their breath and then calling them bitch*s for not keeping up with the tempo. They also had a lot of pointless non playable characters (NPC's) on the field. These are individuals you must associate with to gain access to special information or special missions. It never works out. But some players do enjoy NPC's and find them an interesting addition to Airsoft. They also help to keep command elements busy.
It did not take me a long time to read the ruleset for this event. Two factions, NPC's, one hit kills - right to the point! The main focus was to shoot BBs at the enemy and look cool in the expensive gear. Nothing too complicated. However, Stagops did have a unique medic system that I liked. When you were hit, you had a 5 minute bleed out time, if you were not revived you had to wander the spirit world with a death rag on. This ensured that squads stayed together. Nobody could walk back to respawn on their own, or else the team lost points. The entire squad had to be killed to respawn. This would be a term we are all familiar with called "Squad Wipe". Very creative way to keep squads together. The Mission set was not too clear to Soldiers on the ground, but it was evident that command was passing down orders to section leaders. For Soldiers, it was confusing; but what Soldier is not confused in any scenario? The weekend went smoothly with orders coming down the line that sounded like, “3rd Platoon, you need to secure a ridgeline and hold it until 1600”. Even if the missions were boring, I was still happy to sit and relax for a minute.
For Ruleset, Stagops gets a 5.
Why a 5?
Easy to read rules and standard procedures keep games going. Especially when you have a cool medic system to force people to stick together.
When it comes to the immersive nature of this event, it's hard to say. When NPC’s are talking to you and not acting right, it makes it difficult to stay in the game. Some of the NPC's were very professional and enhanced the immersion. The rest of the event was realistic, lots of exciting gun fights and realistic engagements with the enemy. However, there is one thing that is missing - screaming Soldiers in pain. Only one organization does this perfectly, and I think you know what I am talking about (Milsim West). There is something about screaming and wailing in the distance that creates immersion like I have never experienced.
“However, there is one thing that is missing - screaming Soldiers in pain. Only one organization does this perfectly, and I think you know who I am talking about (Milsim West).”
Instead, at most milsim events the reply to a nice kill is “hit”. I think most of us agree that “AHHH! OMG He shot me in the ass! OMG AHHH I am HIT, MEDIC, OHH GOD!”, is much more entertaining.
For Immersion, Stagops gets a 2.
Why a 2?
Because nobody was screaming and some of the NPC's were not acting appropriately. I want screaming, I want people rolling in pain, I want explosions, I want NPC’s who act properly, I want the real deal!
Lets talk about the last topic: Crowd. I had some odd engagements on the field that are normal, but at this event I got yelled at. Every time I accidently shot someone multiple times I got screamed at. "OMG! You hit me already! I told you I am dead!", to which I would reply, "Sorry! It was an accident!". They would let proceed to curse me out. I have never had this kind of interaction with players. At least four or five occasions this happened. Again, I never intend to overshoot people, but when there is a medic crawling next to you wrapping your leg with a bandage, I am going to try to shoot him. I personally have never yelled at anyone, called somebody's hits for them, or gotten upset with players for overshooting. I move out of the way or just take the BBs to the face. Its a 6mm pellet. It does not hurt that bad.
For Crowd, Stagops gets a 2.
Why a 2?
On multiple other occasions I noticed players off the field yelling and throwing objects at each other. It all comes to ego with this stuff and some guys do not know how to put their ego aside. Ego level was over 9,000 at this venue. Not sure why? Never seen it this bad before.
My Personal Thoughts
Its a fun milsim event. The raffle after the event was filled with laughter and people taking their shirts off, giving new players the biggest prize, lots of fun. Not to mention the Great staff, very friendly. However, the execution was not there. It always comes back to Milsim West with me; Milsim West knows what Military Simulation is. Combat simulation is not always going to the commander to get orders, running into the woods, getting lit up and walking back to respawn for a water break. Sometimes its holding one objective for the entire weekend. You ruck out to a position, you bring your food out, your sleeping gear, you hold the damn line at your position. When you get overrun you call "Broken Arrow!" and fight to the death. No other Milsim organization gets that aspect. Modern combat is fought in and around Forward Operating Bases (FOB) and Combat Outposts (COP). Most deployments consist of staying at one COP the entire deployment and launching raids and patrols from within that position. Maybe every once in awhile your commander decides to launch a full scale assaults' at enemy positions to see what they can capture. Imagine a bunch of guys are eating chow in hoodies and ranger panties when a shit ton of taginn rounds fly overhead, "Oh Shit!", the watch tower calls out, "Heavy enemy movement coming this way!". Cue Machine Gun outside the walls of the combat outpost. "Hey everyone get your shit! We need to get on the walls!". Every Soldier rushes to the wall and starts shooting into the Woodline. Nobody has any proper gear on, Ryan is jumping out of the shitter and Josh is waking up from a nap. Wouldn't that be a better concept? Replicate that environment and you will have me at every event!
Imagine a bunch of guys are eating chow in hoodies and ranger panties when a shit ton of taginn rounds fly overhead, "Oh Shit!", the watch tower calls out, "Heavy enemy movement coming this way!". Cue Machine Gun outside the walls of the combat outpost. "Hey everyone get your shit! We need to get on the walls!"
However, some people don't want that. They want a day of gameplay and a night of chilling with the boys (and gals) near the campfire. They want to get some decent rest and show up for formation the next day rested and ready to go at it again. For me, its never been about comfort, some of these events always leave me wanting more.
I might be a little brutal with my assessments of some events, but I feel its appropriate. Most guys (and gals) are craving a true "in the shit" experience and most of these events come up short. I was not disappointed by Stagops, in fact I had a great time, I would recommend this venue to anyone. Do I want the full 40 hour non-stop Milsim West model? Yes, but I am always willing to have fun. Something that could have made this event completely different was the utilization of the field. The field had large hills, cliffs, and big rocks. All I could think about was mountain warfare. Scaling these cliff sides felt like something out of Lone Survivor. I found myself constantly wandering back to the cliffs. I thought, "Why can't we just setup a COP on this ridge and occupy this key terrain?". If they had utilized the terrain properly, I would have had a blast on the ridgelines, holding the line.
Being a critic is easy work. What was the real reason I drove up to this event? To have fun! Did I have fun? Yes, but being in the shit IS having fun for me.