A little over half a year ago my team decided to attend one of the biggest Airsoft events in Europe, the annually held Berget in Sweden. At first we were psyched – we knew the logistics would be difficult, but we were sure it would be manageable. A large playing area in beautiful Sweden, a lot of vehicles and anti-tank capable infantry… Which Airsofter wouldn’t be interested?
The reality would prove to be a little different. Coming from The Netherlands and driving to Sweden means you have to take your Airsoft replicas through Germany. The Germans are quite uptight about these things. Generally speaking, full auto airsoft replicas are illegal if they shoot over 0,5J of kinetic energy. That means that most replicas used by Dutch players are illegal. We had heard of a permit to take such replicas through Germany to be used in other countries, so we applied for such a permit with the German municipalities through which we would enter and leave the country.
It got denied.
This sucked. It meant we had to fly over Germany in order to get our rifles to Sweden. Of course we could have chosen to just take them along in the car. All countries on our intended route are European Union countries and partake in the Schengen agreement. But there’s an actual risk of imprisonment so this wasn’t an option for us. Do so at your own peril.
Another option was shipping your gear to Berget directly, but most of us weren’t exactly charmed by the idea of packing thousands upon thousands of Euros of kit into a box and shipping it to somewhere outside of our own control.
So the logistics plan boiled down to this: Two members would drive with all our kit, food and drink, and three members would fly with the team’s replicas. We would link up in Copenhagen and drive the rest of the way to Sweden.
Three of us checked in at Eindhoven Airport, with six replicas. And three of us checked out at Copenhagen Airport, again, with six replicas. But to say this was easy would be lying.
Transavia, the carrier handling our flight, was not very experienced checking in weapon-like items and sporting rifles. After the customs personnel at Eindhoven checked if everything was in order (our permits, the state and actual replica-ness of our rifles), the personnel at the check-in counter forgot one crucial step: turned out we had to fill in some documents about our rifles. We would find out the hard way at the gate.
Even before we wanted to board our plane, our names were called over the intercom. The personnel at the gate mentioned said documents and tried to arrange them at the last minute. They failed. They then made the call to let us board anyway. The alarm went off when two of our three boarding passes were scanned. They let us board anyway. Once we were in the plane, it took an awful long time for the plane to leave. The Commander let us know over the intercom that two passengers were too late and that their luggage would be offloaded. Luckily we were sharp enough to ask one of the stewardesses if that happened to be ours, due to the alarm. Turned out it was. The Commander made the call to let the luggage be boarded again, and then we left.
We weren’t exactly sure if our rifles would be unloaded in Copenhagen.
Luckily they would be, but searching for the correct desk took a little time. After signing some documents it was all good. We picked up our rifles and left for Arrivals, where our two other team members stood waiting. We loaded the rifles into the car and left for Sweden: another 1000k drive to our destination.
The first Gorilla Taktikz Road Trip was a fact and it was awesome.
When we arrived at Berget itself, check-in was fairly well arranged. After chronoing our replicas and hooking up with another Dutch team with which we would form a squad, we proceeded to our base and set up shop – not without problems. Command and Berget did not account for different tent sizes, which meant that way too many people would be packed into a single 25 person military tent. In the end we ended up 24 people in a single tent – tight but manageable.
After waiting about 24 hours and walking around the immediate area of our base, it was time for game on, which was planned for 2100 hours on the 24th of June. Suffice to say the entire game was not as good as we had hoped about half a year ago, but better then we expected about a month ago. This was mainly due to one factor: The sides were awfully unbalanced.
Blue, our side, was made up of mainly infantry with a small mechanized detachment. Red, on the other hand, was mainly mechanized with a large infantry part as well. Berget, in its infinite wisdom, supplied anti-vehicle capability in the form of a laser controlled AT simulator, but these had to be bought by players, rather than that they were handed out by the organization to offset the large mechanized advantage of the Red side.
This meant that, by and large, any single engagement we were involved in unfolded as follows: we would push hard, and push Red back with heavy casualties on both sides. Our aggressiveness was at times unparalleled. But then, Red could simply ride in fresh reinforcements by vehicle while we had to hoof it back to the last Control Point in Blue hands – often a multiple-K walk. Not a problem physically, but a tactical and strategic nightmare because it made it virtually impossible to stay in control of a fight. Anti-vehicle capability was severely limited on the squad, platoon and company level, which made it difficult to disable the main enemy advantage – until the last day. Somewhere on Friday afternoon the game masters decided to give the morally depleted Blue side their bit of fun and let Blue command drop some artillery on the Red base, disabling most of their vehicles for an extended period of time.
This gave Blue the freedom of movement to push up to the central town of the game map, Krasnovo. Suffice to say our last mission was the most fun we had all week. It had everything: a small unit infil with just the five of us; fighting off a contact with just the five of us; a link-up with the main force marching upon the town; pushing into the town with a force on company strength; and some good CQB action inside buildings. We stayed in the field a lot longer than expected. This, for us, made Berget a little bit better.
Saturday morning we decided to leave early and have a rest over night in Stockholm. We had some excellent burgers and beer in this beautiful city and drove on to Copenhagen Sunday morning. The three of us checked in and boarded our plane, which we accomplished without a single hiccup (Copenhagen, I guess, being much more used to sporting and hunting rifles than Eindhoven). Our luggage was offloaded in Eindhoven and there was no Customs official present at that time so we decided to go home. End of story.
So my personal feeling about Berget boils down to this:
It is not the event I first expected it to be. The almost total lack of role-play; the lack of serious milsim elements; the heavy imbalance of factions which the registration system allowed for; the large amount of beginning or inexperienced players with kit not seriously up to the task… All of this makes me think twice about attending again. This is compounded by the logistic difficulty and monetary cost of actually getting there: the strict German laws around Airsoft replicas make it a pain to travel to certain countries in Europe.
But it wasn’t all pain: The beautiful Swedish landscape and the sheer size of the game area makes it… well, not actually worth it, but I do not regret going. The feeling of actually operating on your own, walking your own patrol and making your own tactical decisions is awesome, a feeling unavailable in the Netherlands.
Also, this was an actual road trip. I believe I speak for all attending team members when I say that we grew as a team and got to know each other a little better – and had a lot of fun to boot. The real steel MSA Supreme I acquired along the way is just a small plus…
So, are you thinking about attending Berget? Keep in mind that it takes a lot of effort getting there and that it is not without a doubt you will get cool missions and have a good time – I know horror stories of people being on base security for three days: just a little too milsim for my taste. You might have an awesome time as well. Or, like us, you might end up having some boring moments and some awesome moments. It’s all in the game. Which is fine. But you have to decide for your own if it is worth the 4000K round trip.
For me personally, just the once. It was an experience I enjoyed at times but it will be a one-time thing. Next stop: Copehill Down, Stanta or Catterick in Great Britain.