Los Gringos – The UN

September 1, 2013 sliabh Rionegro EscalationRulesUnit information

As there has been some controversy around the Gringos/UN I felt more information on the unit and their mission was in order.

The unit was conceived last year from the number of “war crimes” happening in the game – POW torture and execution, firing on civilians (remember the checkpoint massacre?). I thought it would be good to have consequences to actions. We would select 25 players from previous games for arrest on various war crimes. It made sense for the unit to be doing this to be a new one, outside of the main factions, and the UN is the obvious identity.

However the UN were not just going to be there as generic peace keepers.┬áThis is something that seems to have confused some people. The UN players were another faction, with their own objectives. They would take their character from the UN (generally act in self defence, cannot use “torture”, etc), but like the rest of the units in the game they were an approximation of what would happen in real life.

As the suspect hunt mission was a secret, we had to keep the identify of the unit under wraps too. Otherwise why would anyone sign up for a boring unit which would spend their time manning checkpoints and babysitting civvies? “Blue Force” was a bit too obvious, so we used “Gringos” (the appropriate Latin American slang for foreigners), when describing the unit in public.

A week before the game the UN players were given their list of suspects. They had all the names and dates of birth, some of the unit locations, and some low res photos (easy to find through facebook!) They had to locate each one, arrest them and get them back to the UN base to be held for 60 minutes before being extradited.

The headgear split was built around this. Wearing blue hats players could travel on any road, but could only fire in self defence. In this way they would try and identify where the 25 suspects were, and build up a picture of their movements. With black hats they could go anywhere (for snatch missions), but could be attacked without consequence by other teams. The trick for the 27 UN players was how to successfully grab a suspect and then return them. As we saw on Sunday morning at the Heavies checkpoint, you can’t just waltz up, serve the arrest warrants, and expect them to come quietly (it ended in a massacre).

On the day the whole concept ran into trouble almost from the start. Across the site players refused to provide their real names to the UN, or to give them access to all of the site roads. As well as being a breach of game rules (this was deliberately emphasised at the pre-game briefing) it made it almost impossible for the UN to achieve their goals. With only 27 players they would never have the power to force past other units. And being provided with false names meant they could not build up the intel picture of suspects needed to prepare for arrest operations.

We ended up with a situation then where the UN players got frustrated as they were seeing players break the rules in a way that left it hard for them to locate their targets. And opposing players (unaware of the UN’s real mission) getting annoyed as the UN seemed to be able to meander through bases in blue hats gathering intel and then turn up later in black ones to raid.

This was disappointing as we had prepared what we thought was a challenging and very original objective for a unit. And one that would have lead to very interesting situations for opposing players also. It had started out very well too. I was quite surprised when the UN managed to peacefully intercept the stolen humanitarian supplies on the first convoy.

In some ways we may have been too clever in trying to keep the unit identity and its mission under wraps. If all players knew what the UN was actually up to then they may have been more willing to play ball with blue hat part, and save their (over) reaction for the black hats and attempts to make arrests. Perhaps we have not seen the last of the UN?

There were a few other issues around the unit that were queried.

  • Vehicle allocations – the UN were allocated one dedicated 4WD (the white one), but lost the use of it for much of the game. They also had the Landrover and Humvee, but only had one driver for the two, and were limited in where they could be used. They were given vehicles to offset their small size, and as it would be too difficult otherwise for them to transport prisoners across the site back to their base.
  • Vehicle hits were a problem everywhere. Even the Bellurgan site drivers reported difficulties with this. A driver, worrying about running over someone, in the middle of a fire fight where there is incoming and outgoing automatic fire, can find it very difficult to tell when a vehicle has been hit by a grenade shower. Eddie and I discussed this after the game. We both feel that alternative methods of disabling vehicles are needed, ideally electronic systems.
  • There were complaints about the timings of the UN attack on the Heavies campsite. Without a time machine we will probably never know for sure. But in the future we probably need the EMs to be the timekeepers for this. It would be for them to potentially fly a flag or signal indicating that the campsite has gone “off-game” at 0200.

* During the game we arrested 4 of the suspects, and I was able to give many of the rest their arrest warrants. As I am rather wary of Google associating anyone’s name with serious war crime allegations I won’t publish their names here. If your name is on the list you will be mailed directly.

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