Graycell: The 3rd Dimension of Airsoft


Immersive, multi-day, non-stop RealMil style MilSim Airsoft is finally coming to South Carolina (with all of its adjectives)… and it’s here to stay.

Though most people were not aware, Operation Vietnam Patrol II was actually meant as a proof of concept. It was meant to test whether the local player base would enjoy a RealMil style event, and gain practical knowledge as to its implementation. My intention, if at least half of the players enjoyed that style of game play, was to begin a new series of RealMil style events heavily influenced and inspired by how Operation East Wind was run. I’m very pleased to announce that this new series is coming soon.

The Operation Graycell series will offer players two main events each year, called “Operation Graycell I, II, III”, etc. These will be multi-day, non-stop RealMil style games similar to Operation Vietnam Patrol II. They will normally run for more than 50 hours, though we hope to lengthen some of them later on. Just like Vietnam Patrol II, they will involve players: fortifying strong points by digging and constructing fighting positions; sleeping in shifts; maintaining absolute unit cohesion (you’re with your squad for the entire event); receiving OpOrds, FragOs, work details, and anything else command gives you with the understanding that it’s not optional; operating for prolonged periods at night; eating in shifts in the field; not having access to your vehicle or the local McDonalds for the duration of the event; and many other things most players simply aren’t used to. We believe the increased level of challenge, structure, and intensity provides an airsofting experience that’s just not found at the vast majority of games. However, you won’t be charged a fortune to take part. The money made off of these events will be spent on additional equipment for use at future events. My purpose is to provide an amazing experience for players… the same experience I spent years trying to find and felt I had to share once I did. The Graycell series will also offer some smaller events with specific themes, like “Graycell Series Mini-Op: Dusk”. These events will have almost the same rule set as Operation Graycell itself, with some slightly loosened aspects. They’ll normally be only one day, and are designed to give those who haven’t made it to similar events a taste of what they can expect at an Operation Graycell.

The storyline behind the series is that of a US based private military firm called “Graycell”. Each event follows a ‘deployment’ of the company, usually to some third world nation to handle some problem they either can’t handle themselves, or don’t want to handle due to public relations reasons. This fictional scenario is currently becoming more and more common in the real world. Nations like Nigeria have hired PMC firms to handle internal paramilitary problems that their own infrastructure just can’t, or won’t. The fictional PMC firm “Graycell” has strong US military roots, which is why they require a standard uniform of M81 woodland BDUs for all of their deployed personnel. When in the field, they function similarly to a US Army infantry company, with a similar command and staff structure. The insurgent faction will also have stringent fatigue standards, but with more options. For game mechanics purposes these will remain the same even though the Insurgent faction will be different (as far as the story line is concerned) for each event. The Insurgents will usually be paramilitary, with a similar structure to that of Graycell. These events will be taking place at various fields in South Carolina. Due to the purpose being to keep costs low, it’s not likely we’ll be having any at enormous expensive venues anytime soon. However, they will be hosted at locations that provide enough space to keep things interesting.

Now I’d like to offer you some of the back story as to why I’m starting the Graycell series. I’ve been running airsoft events in South Carolina regularly for over six years now. Most of our games in the AOSC cater to either ‘paintsoft’ style (short, fast paced games with no real command structure and a simple objective or two in a relatively small area) or what is now regularly referred to as ‘MilSim’ style operations (longer games lasting a day or two, usually with breaks for meals, a command structure and some unit cohesion, a story line with objectives throughout, sometimes more complex medic rules, and a larger field of play). I love both of these game types, but I’d always wanted something more. It felt like the sport was only two dimensions, and I was looking for some depth.
I was finally able to attend Operation East Wind VII, and it blew me away. I had found the other dimension of airsoft I’d been missing for all these years: RealMil. I decided I’d never miss an East Wind again, and I’d work on a long term goal of bringing something similar to South Carolina. Sadly, the very next East Wind was their last event. After attending it I began preparing a game that would introduce a lot of similar elements. I figured some would like it, and some wouldn’t. If enough people liked it I’d begin a regular series with an overarching story line, but it couldn’t be just like East Wind.

East Wind suffered from three major issues in my eyes. These issues were a boon for some (like myself), but also prevented a lot of growth. They were: duration of the event, historical accuracy requirements, and cost. For people like me that have dreamed of playing airsoft for 9 days straight, it’s a great thing. For most players, that’s just too much. Also, the logistics and expense behind leaving work or school for that long is a major burden. Historical accuracy is amazing for immersion, but nowadays most airsofters want to have the latest and greatest. People want to be ‘high speed operators’, which to most means buying the latest fad in geardom and scoffing at ALICE and its ilk. The bigger issue with historical accuracy gets into the next point; expense. Requiring people to drop hundreds and hundreds (often $1,000+) on gear to meet the requirements makes the game that much more immersive for those that can, but for those that can’t it means they will never attend. The Operation Graycell series will have some stringent but inexpensive requirements for fatigues, but will not require any specific guns or gear. It will also provide events lasting only 3-4 days (for now), which most everyone can work into their schedule. Thus, with a drastically lower cost than other RealMils, and considerably less stringent requirements, it should open the door for more people to take part in this amazing experience.

Something else will be different from both EW and VPII: I’m adding a 5th squad to each company that will be their faction’s “special operations” unit. Some players just can’t get enough of a challenge. Were this a video game, 5th squad would be the “hardcore” mode. Members of each faction’s 5th squad will do more foot patrolling, entrenching, eating in the field, bivouacking, stealth oriented missions, and get less sleep than anyone else. There’s a good chance they’ll shoot less too, if they do their job right. It’s recommended that players who want this sort of challenge have participated in similar events before, and understand what they are getting themselves into.

Most Graycell events will be AOSC games, and they’ll be hosted by me (Dominum Productions). However, that doesn’t mean I’m not doing this without help! Three very experienced airsofters will be helping to make this happen: Jacob West (Mr. Marauder), William Andrew Henley (Uboat), and Matthew Ives (Mives). We will also be relying heavily on experienced members of the community that step up to take staff positions for each faction, and admin/role playing positions. I’d also like to offer a huge thanks to the entire staff of the Operation East Wind series, and specifically Allan Swayze. My amazing time at your events opened my eyes to the third dimension of airsoft, set a standard to which I don’t expect to meet (though I’ll try), and inspired me to offer something ‘new’ to the airsofters of the Southeastern US.

If this sort of event just isn’t your cup of tea, I can’t fault you for it. There are lots of great ways to play airsoft, and this is just one of them. These events aren’t meant for everyone. However, if Graycell sounds like just the sort of airsoft challenge you’re looking for, I’ll see you on the field!

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About Henry (Dominum) Williams

Executive Director of the Airsoft Organization of South Carolina. View all posts by Henry (Dominum) Williams

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