I’ve always returned home from community wars as an ever slightly-so-different person than before, gaining strange insights that could only come about from being hundreds of miles from home in a mock-survival game situation. MOAB taught me the importance of physical development and ensuring I get out and about enough to appreciate nature, to appreciate all weathers and seasons, and to never fall to be a weak person again. It was a bit of a rite of passage for me, one where I learned a bit on how to fight water wars the proper way and how to make the struggle of victory my own.
Soakemore was quite different. Having a friend along makes things quite different, as does taking a car instead of a plane and having space to bring your own stuff. The weeks and days leading up to Soakemore were some of the best I’ve had; putting things together that work in such demanding situations just leaves a feeling of satisfaction I would never find elsewhere. I was literally building for war. I needed a working CPH, APH, and Douchenator before the weekend, and I accomplished precisely that. I took my own car, my own stuff, everything. It was a true taste of independence and growth, it was feeling that I had something to be proud of and that I have become someone more capable. A culmination of my last 7 years of effort, from asking a friend what CPS meant, to cementing the final PVC fittings of a homemade together.
And culmination it was. I would finally get to experience my first naval wars, the first time I’ve extensively used homemades in battle that I’ve built with my own hands, and take advantage of my improving skills and physical ability.
Friday was exciting and frantic. It didn’t even occur to me to pack swim trunks, so I ended up going back home to do so after picking up my friend. The 9 hour journey there was filled with more rest stops than I would’ve liked. Tolls weren’t nice but the convenience of simple roads/directions was worth it to me. Gas took about $70 to make the trip.
Upon arrival, I wanted to grab an empty 12k out of the trunk and breach the front door, but lacked the energy to do so. However, I did get an equivalent of a greeting by DX, SEAL bros, and Scott. (And the damn XP 20 that was fired at me still had enough water left in it for the mist shot to have equivalent output of an Electrostorm! How rude!) Anyway, I missed the night games, so I just paced around the place, figured out where to settle down, and had a look at the stuff everyone else brought. Big pile of 21k bladders and the parts for a metal Douchenator from DX, and CPS 2000 with a broken pump seal from SEAL. I briefly mentioned the SuperPiston pumps thread, but people don’t keep up with my posts anyway lol.
We had missed a game at Westland Middle School earlier, thanks to my friend being unable to get out of work sooner. It wasn’t a big deal, since we’d play there again Sunday evening.
Anyway, first thing to do in the day was to get to Sycamore Island. Unfortunately, I was not fully prepared since my loadout plan required a lot of things for that day.
– Primaries: CPS 2000, 2500
– Water bottles, balloons, balloon pouch
– Douchenator, sabots, bike pump, etc.
– Naval warfare primaries: CPH, APH
I didn’t switch out the APH nozzle nor prepare the boat dip tubes to the proper length. I assumed there would be no problem doing it there anyway, but was not quite aware that we would not be moving to the cars all day and had to bring in only what we could carry at once. This was the biggest issue, but eventually we moved everything there. The other problem was that I did not arrange everything in the backpacks properly, and needed time to ensure I had everything I was supposed to. Overall, it was an annoying mess: I even forgot the Douchenator’s pump on the first trip in, which I had to run back to get.
Day 1, Round 1: Sycamore Island 1HS
This game took place across the island, utilizing the whole place. Teams were me, Scott, and our friends vs. DX and the SEAL bros. On our first approach, we split up, with Scott’s fireteam and my friend and I taking on opposite sides of the island on our approach to the north end of it. My friend and I encountered messy terrain on our approach, and ended up at a dead end with lots of logs and fallen trees. We found an enemy group around the area and moved quickly inwards to engage. Chief, SEAL, and DX approached to attack, and lots of tap shots were exchanged in a fast-paced and frantic shootout. We got away shortly and waited for their group to approach us, without being aware of our exact positions. I hid behind a large tree, waiting for SEAL to get in easy kill range, but completely screwed it up by revealing my position way too early. Eventually, DX charged up and eliminated the both of us.
The plan didn’t quite go so well. We wanted to hit the easier targets, particularly the younger of the SEAL bros, knowing that trying to get kills off DX would not be a great idea.
After this game, we at lunch, explored the clubhouse, and then mixed up the teams and started a HTL game at the treehouse. (20 minutes time limit, defenders 3 lives, attackers infinite) Groups were split up quite oddly to produce the teams; I was with DX, Firebird, and one of Scott’s friends, while Scott, his other friend, my friend, and Chief joined the defending team.
Day 1, Round 2: Sycamore Island Treehouse HTL (Assault)
I finally got to take a WBL to a game for the first time. The first launch was by far the best, but still didn’t hit anyone in the treehouse. Overall, we fired 7-9 balloons that round, and only one or two shots failed completely (burst in barrel or stuck to sabot). Most of the shots worked fine, but were not accurate enough to hit anyone.
Sometime along, I ended up getting into a short shootout vs. Chief. Nothing of value was accomplished here, so I went back to the Douchenator to finish off a few more shots.
I eventually left the Douchenator and went to attack the left flank with the 2500. I was always stuck with the 2500 since my friend was using the 2000. I figured I’d play more supportively than make the kills, but we never really got to work as a team that often. (Plus he kept getting shuffled out of my team.)
Now, since the treehouse was at the south end of the island, I would attempt to flank to the southeast and try to engage from behind the tree house, but this would never work. I played very defensively and did not want to risk getting hit, so I never made the run (which would’ve put me in easy kill range for several seconds), and I’d eventually get cornered if I made it anyways. (Although I’d also have distracted the defenders enough for the attackers to press the attack.) The treehouse itself is fairly low and accessible, but still allows any defenders in it to effectively cover and support the entire defending line.
Anyway, we apparently finished the round without making any kills. Lots of close calls (on both sides), but no hits. Some of us attackers got hit, but I can’t remember who. (i.e. Whether it was Scott’s friend or Firebird.)
Day 1, Round 3: Sycamore Island Beach Landing HTL (Defense)
Nobody except Scott and I wanted to finish HTL by swapping sides, since most people were bored by the game, son ext up was HTL beach defense. This was a particularly interesting round while we defended, but extremely frustrating when attacking. Teams were mixed up again, since Drenchenator had arrived: All of Scott’s friends + Drenchenator vs. my friend and I, DX, SEAL, and Chief.
The game was organized into two stages: Boats and ground. The rule was that any boat that didn’t land (but its occupants are all hit) had to return and try again. After landing, the boats were the spawn points. Attackers had infinite lives at all times and defenders had 3. Time limit was 30 minutes this time.
The first defense stage was lots of fun. Lots of water balloons were fired, but we had one problem: The wind and waves pushed them downstream, and it was left to the attackers to retrieve them. Some were lost, so we effectively littered this way. The good news is that the sabots float, but we decided to leave out WBL’s after swapping sides.
In the middle of the first stage, SEAL scored the first community war hit with a WBL. The balloon landed on the water surface but skipped like a skipping stone, and hit Drenchenator on its way up.
However, keeping two launchers working spread our defenses very thin. The other team eventually landed at the south end of the island and established a spawn there. We ended up using 1HS spawn rules, but without any time limit, so the attackers were already stuck on the island. Keeping them back meant having to get hit, and it was from this that I was eventually eliminated. We should’ve retreated inward instead, but it was unclear where the boundaries were. We eventually lost.
Day 1, Round 4: Sycamore Island Beach Landing HTL (Assault)
This got real nasty this round. The lack of WBL’s kept the beach landing process less exciting, particularly when neither boat could make a landing before getting hit. Being in a boat means being lower and having less range, and the lack of a spawn timer for either team proved to be a problem. We ended up going back and forth on the water for 30 minutes without getting anywhere.
The game ended, and my friend and I rowed our boat up to the ground. Things had degenerated into a de-facto impromptu soakfest. Random kids even threw rocks at us. Sometime along, we moved past a low branch which lifted my glasses right off and they flew into the water behind the boat. We were around CPS 2000 range from the shore, but the glasses sank immediately and we knew they would never be retrieved. In rage, I powered up the APH and frantically threw out every water balloon in the bucket.
Right there and then, I had lost a part of myself. Something so simple, yet so important. I took pride in being able to drive all the way from Michigan to Maryland, and now I was completely dependent on my friend to make further drives and to take us back home. This combined with the inability to land without getting soaked, as well as the injuries I sustained from using the equipment/APH, drove me into pure rage. I haven’t felt anything quite like it for a long time. I wanted to load the APH with lighter fluid and burn that tree down, but managed to resist getting pissed off at anyone in particular. (And never quite got a hold of that lighter fluid, fortunately.)
After that, I ended up making a run to the car to put away the homemades. I came back because we were supposedly going to start a new game, but by the time I arrived, they had finished without us. It was time for dinner, which took place countless hours later as we struggled to figure out how to order the pizza and waited for it.
Later on, my friend and I made some attempts to get glasses, contacts, anything. We went to the wrong places, but when we finally got to a Target Optical in Virginia, my prescription was not put out for contacts, only glasses, and it would take at least a week to get them. It was also slightly dated. We took a lot of time to do this, but we got to travel, see places, and spend time together, so I guess it wasn’t truly a waste of time and gas.
Today, I’d have to fight more on instinct and less on vision. We went out to Carderock and had a lot of time before we’d actually get started. The bathrooms to the north were closed, so we drove down south a bit to ones that were open (which stinked, and one of the stall walls had a glory hole in it), but then had to drive even further south again to get to a picnic area with a spigot.
Upon arrival, everyone else was already there having lunch. Firebird got a Splashzooka off DX and brought a QFD to attack to the spigot. Due to the way the spigot works (similar to the one at Legend Park), it builds up a LOT of air pressure before the water goes through, which, in turn, blew out the QFD and made it useless. Of course, I come to the rescue with the VHS and some pliers. I would have to reconfigure it to work with the spigot instead of the hoses at home since the faucet would get in the way of the whole thing while threading it on. It was not just to help him out though: I’d also need it to quickly fill up the homemade backpacks I brought for refills later.
We filled up maybe 16 or so gallons of water to use as refills in later games. We’d end up only needing about 4 or so since we only played two 1HS games after that before people were apparently tired already. SMH…
Day 2, Round 1: Carderock 1HS
Teams were switched back to that of the Island 1HS: Scott’s friends, my friend, and I, vs. DX and SEAL bros. We were going to try CTF originally, but decided not to at the last minute. We opted for 1HS instead.
Naturally, we had a bit of the same issue that we encountered at the 1HS AP-only game in MOAB: lots of nomadic wandering despite the 20 minute time limit. Carderock’s terrain was very rough, with lots of rocky areas and numerous hills. The opposing team was on the hill we started on when we got back after wandering around. Not wanting to sit in a stalemate, we attacked their defensive position, which I tried to do carefully. We were already doomed to be spotted due to the noisy n00bs on our team, but we already spotted them first thanks to Firebird’s bright blue sweater.
On our approach, we lost 3 hits and gained 2. Scott was able to get a hit on DX after my friend helped out but took a hit for. I attacked the other side of the hill almost alone, trying to probe slowly and find a way up. I nearly took a full hit from poor dodging and relying excessively on gun blocking, but according to a teammate, most of it landed on my 2500 or went too far.
Before I could probe further and try to press up the hill, the time limit already hit. Unfortunately, we did not provision the game rules and time limit for this; perhaps we need to move both teams’ starting points closer next time and give a longer time limit. That said, we likely would’ve lost anyway due to inferior positioning, tactics, and team coordination, the last of which was a particularly bad issue for us.
Day 2, Round 2: Carderock Casual 1HS
After the game, some people were tired already. Must’ve been from the games we missed in the morning, which I’m not sure of how long they went on. Firebird and one of Scott’s friends sat out of the final 1HS round of the day, a quick and frantic unscored game in which I would die constantly from being surrounded and from lack of team coordination. (My friend and I, along with Scott, went up against DX, SEAL, and Chief.)
This game was a bit boring for me, but apparently was the most fun for my friend. I only recall scoring a double-hit (both players shoot at the same time) this round, although I might have made one or two additional hits on Chief that I forgot about. My deaths were from Chief and DX, as Scott and others were busy fighting SEAL/DX. The thick trees made navigation a pain due to the very fast-paced nature of the game, but they also provided some cover.
After this, SEAL lost his car keys. The group searched for hours, before Scott returned and tried to retrace their paths. He found it shortly after, and we were able to leave the area.
So, two lessons learned on loosing things so far: 1: Anything lost over water is gone forever if you so much as breathe on it wrong (I should’ve learned this from the GoPro), and 2: Always clip keys onto you, or button up pockets!
Dinner took place at American City Diner, a 50’s style restaurant in DC. We ordered no shortage of fries during our time there; more calories for the warrior to burn! And burn we did since we’d play a few games at Westland Middle School that night.
The new playing area was epic. We waited until after it got dark to arrive, and I prepared some flashlights. Turns out the school was completely lit the whole time, so they were of very limited use, but I wouldn’t turn down the option of having one anyway. Some of the area was wooded, and there were dark areas great for ambushing, but we didn’t put them to as much use as we could’ve. The playing area was awesome though; lots of cover, some small buildings/structures, and portable classrooms surrounded the main building. Teams were Scott, DX, Chief, and I, vs. my friend, the rest of the SEAL bros, and one of Scott’s friends (Bela). The flags were represented by Max-D 3000’s.
Day 2, Round 3: Westland Middle School Urban CTF
The bases were setup around the portable classrooms. On one side was a lone portable setup in otherwise a very open area. The other base had four portables lined up around a parking lot. The latter was easier to sneak up on, but also much easier to defend since the flag’s position made it difficult to retrieve.
In this round, Scott and I played close defense. We had a few easy encounters that we drove off without much trouble, which came from my friend and from SEAL. At first, they would try to setup an attack from the nearby woods, but when unable to, they took to close range. One of us ended up getting a hit on SEAL, and I was able to put my urban combat habits to good use here. My friend and SEAL didn’t end up working that well as a team until later on in the game, when my friend kept the both of us distracted. We basically tunnel-visioned on him, because SEAL was able to make a stealthy run for the flag. A few seconds later, my friend made note of that, which took me a few more seconds to actually believe.
Shortly after, I tried to make a stealthy run to the other base, wasting a lot of time on the way checking for opponents. I figured DX could prevent them from scoring, so I made this run. However, the other team had already scored just after I started making the run.
Day 2, Round 4: Westland Middle School Urban CTF (Swapped Sides)
We agreed to swap sides, since the other base was generally more defendable than ours. The 4 portables and their walkways were setup very well around the flag’s location (which wasn’t a very fair one to begin with, but I digress, and it doesn’t matter anyway since both teams played both sides), which would prevent a sneak attack as such from being easy to pull off. I will have to scratch up a map of it sometime or use Google’s.
Anyway, I setup a little gag for our flag when we started. The Max-D 3000 was filled up to add weight and make it less easy to grab very quickly. In addition, a water balloon was stuffed in the middle of the group. The best that could happen from all this was that anyone grabbing the flag would’ve fumbled it more easily if they’re clumsy and distracted by the pressure of the situation, expecting it to be lighter and to be able to grip it normally.
Turns out that the need for that never came though. Chief and I defended this time (since it didn’t work out w/ Scott), while DX and Scott took the front lines. My friend came around again from the back route to harass us until he could get support. Scott had to return a few times to respawn. Most of our time was spent pacing back and forth in a patrol kind of pattern. I checked unlikely areas for sneak attacks, such as spots under the portables’ walkways. Great areas for video games, but badly immobile for our game. (Yet still very stealthy.)
Patrolling with a leaky blaster is a bit annoying at best. I didn’t know where the problem was, but my hands were getting soaked. (Turns out the seal at the back of the pull valve failed. -__-) Anyway, it wasn’t bad enough that I wasn’t able to fight, so I continued playing.
Anyway, when my friend finally came to our base to bother us, he simply messed around and we had a few shootouts, though nothing serious happened. He simply held off where he was until one of his teammates would come around to make a run for the flag. The timing of everything was critical, but could’ve very easily worked out in anyone’s favor.
I got fed up with my friend and decided I wanted to make an attempt at eliminating him, so I went around back behind the portables. Again, I wasted time trying to be stealthy when he knew I was back there the whole time, but I made my go anyway and stayed quiet as he exchanged tap shots with Chief. I finally got to where my friend was and held the corner so he couldn’t escape and would get pushed in.
SEAL and DX were heading to our base, DX with the opponents’ flag in hand and SEAL approaching to attack. Things could’ve gone for much better or much worse very quickly. I happened to charge in at just the right time, quickly eliminating my friend. I may have also eliminated SEAL at this time too, but I can’t remember exactly what happened since so much happened so quickly. All I remember is that DX scored the flag at this time and that I might have stopped my friend from gaining in on him.
Day 2, Round 5: Westland Middle School Urban 1HS
We had a few ideas for our last game, including HTL around the 4 portables, but we eventually settled on 1HS around the whole area, using similar starting points as before. Teams were DX, me, my friend, and Chief vs. everyone else. (SEAL, Firebird, Scott, Bela.)
My friend was getting a bit restless and really did not want to take the quiet, tactical approach. DX and Chief setup an ambush position in the dark, while we were told to watch the back alley. Since we had already gone quiet, I didn’t have a chance to explain this to DX that we simply wanted to scout until we encountered the opposing team. (Otherwise my friend would’ve gotten hit by himself and cost our team some points.) Anyway, we went off and walked around the entire building, before returning to the ambush position that DX and Chief setup. I wasn’t 100% sure if they were still there, but after a few tap shots I quickly yelled “friendly fire!” after knowing it was them.
We regrouped and moved out of the area, exploring a short trail of woods to the north. The trail went uphill gradually, and we continued up until we were ambushed near the top by the opposing team just outside the woods on flat, high ground. We never quite managed to break through, and I’m not sure who, if anyone, got hit, but the time limit was already run down very low. I wanted to force my way through the thick woods and flank, but was unable to do this in time due to the risk of getting hit from the high ground and due to the lack of a visible, usable alternate route out of the woods. I was also unaware of an easier, but longer route, that I could’ve taken to the west in order to flank since it was dark and I was unfamiliar with the area.
The time limit eventually ran out. DX should have the scores to this round, but I’m not quite sure what happened since I never engaged the opposing team directly in this game.
The drive home on the next day took us to all sorts of places, since we deviated from the main route. We ended up in some small town in Pennsylvania and then through some pretty woods/park near or in the Appalachians. It was quite the scenic route. When we got back on the turnpike and through Ohio, it started pouring heavily. Looks like mother nature saved it for the road trip instead of the water wars.
Overall, this was by far the weariest water war I’ve ever been to. The road trip took a toll of its own after the toll booth payments, and there was always a feeling of possibly being stranded in Maryland, made bad by my loss of long-distance vision. I ended up having odd memory lapses, constantly forgetting where I’d place important things shortly after setting them down, and being unable to see them. In addition, I had some unresolved personal issues before going into this that I’d really, really rather not talk about. In any case, we made the trek and returned fine, with lots of great stories to boot. We got to see places and explore, and fight awesome water wars with awesome people. Thanks to Scott and his family for making this all possible, and thanks to everyone else who attended. I’ll definitely have to try to make it again next year if it happens again.