Battle of the Bulge writeup

Battle of the Bulge writeup

Event info:

Date 2nd - 3rd June 2018
Venue Driver Wood Paintball, Old Hollow, Copthorne RH10 4TA
Promoter Urban Paintball
Players Rocket, Ricktion, Fembo, Mrs Fembo and Capt Price
Temperature Surface of the sun
Result Loss/Loss/Loss – fuck this I'm going home


Despite what you'd think The Battle of the Bulge is not some new weight loss program. If it was, you should definitely sign up for it, ya great manatee. It is, in fact, a weekend of Paintball at Gareth Homewood's (relatively new) site; Driver Wood. Personally I think he should have called it Homewood or Gareth's Big Wood. That's a missed opportunity, whatever.

There has been a paintball site for some years at driver wood, which is in Copthorne near Crawley. Gareth has spent almost as much time improving the site as he does on Facebook, which by all accounts had become derelict and completely overgrown, much like your mum's poonanny.

The safe zone is extremely large. Everything is new, and Gareth has really put in some money and effort making it look professional. There was a small stage with a large scoring blackboard. Although UE spies reveal our side was broken all weekend, or something. The seating areas all around the edges were covered in case of rain. The site buildings were freshly painted and the toilets were cleaner than mine at home. All very impressive.

Drinks and paint were for sale all weekend at decent prices. Food was on offer. However, in a moment of truly unbelievable irony Gareth ran out of chips and then immediately had a chip fryer fire.

He actually had a chip fire after running out of chips.

Peak Irony - A chip-less chip pan fire

If you've seen Moss' reaction to a fire (the IT crowd) this was an exact copy of it. Go on, go and watch it; it's worth it, I will wait...

Everyone stood around and did nothing while the fire raged in the kitchen, black smoke belching out of the extractor at an alarming rate. Except there was no alarm, because reasons. Bystanders offered helpful advice like Throw water on it... only kidding, you'll kill literally everyone within a square mile and are my chips ready yet?

To which end, Ricktion managed to force Gareth's wife to cook his chips in their home oven, presumably while the fire still raged on... because he doesn't negotiate with vegetable terrorists. After about an hour someone decided to do something about it, by dumping the still burning fryer in the middle of the safe zone. It happily and burned away for hours, providing much needed warmth on the hottest day in recorded human history.


Friday was quiet - barely anyone else turned up to play. It's like you all have meaningful employment or better things to do. I think I've met the whole of UE now and frankly I don't buy either option. I'm not angry, but much like every woman you've ever met I'm just a bit disappointed.

There were around twelve... let's call them heroes, that turned up to play. They did not take to the field all at once so games were very small. I was in time to catch four games on the Friday and the fields were obviously large compared to the number of players. The games were thus quite fast, mobile and brutal affairs. Just how you like it, you filthy dog.

The marshals assessed my peerless paintball ability at the start, deeming me the equalizer when balancing teams. Presumably they mistook me for someone else/good. This meant I was given the disabled magfed kids. Multiple head shots (received) and 3 losses/1 win later we retired to the safezone.

In best UE fashion I blamed:

  • my team
  • the paint
  • uneven fields
  • the Tories
  • lens flare
  • recombinant memetics

In truth, I met some really friendly players and got shot by them. Pretty sure I got at least one of them, when his back was turned of course, maybe it was a tree.

It was fun, fast moving paintball with lots of room to manoeuvre. Just how boxer shorts should be. 1990s comfort is back, or at least it should be.

The Eternal General Secretary of the Party, our very own little Rocket man and esteemed leader arrived at the hotel Friday night. With an Uber booked, I met Rob downstairs chatting up the pensioner behind the reception which is standard behaviour. I'm pretty sure I saw both numbers and a wink exchanged. Seriously nothing in a skirt, or even support stockings is safe around this man.

None of the other team members had arrived yet, so hand in hand we headed out to Crawley town for a romantic meal for two. I was born in Crawley, so I'd like to say something nice about it. If you've ever been to Crawley, you would realise that that is a bit difficult. In Crawley's defence I can say, it absolutely definitely was not on fire, or filled with killer bees... That's the best I've got.

A short drive later we found a rather nice pub/wine bar called the Old Punchbowl. A few dry Martinis later and we ambled up the road to the third best curry house in Crawley - the 'Blue India'. The name promised much but only delivered spiced food, sadly no off colour 80's sex jokes. However, Hammertime would be disgusted, nay enraged, by the popadums that arrived as they were folded. Folded I tell you, into quarters! How the actual fuck are you supposed to karate chop that? We almost left in disgust at that point

The subsequent food was good, and added to the continuing battle of the bulge. See what I did there? Puns.

A quick jaunt around Crawley to find a nice pub obviously failed. We returned to our only point of reference, the Punchbowl and what a difference a few hours makes. Now there were bouncers at the door. The person in front was searched and found to be carrying a knife. He seemed like a nice chap though, so the bouncers said they'd keep the knife and let him have it back when he left. He went in, so in for a penny, we did too... besides they sold beer.

The Old Punchbowl - the name is literal

Plus we were safe in the knowledge we could always get our knives back at the end of the evening.

Nothing else of any interest happened. We definitely did not invade a table of girls on a work do/leaving party/funeral or was it the other way around? Alcoforgets.

Saturday game

Around 40-50 players turned up for the Battle of the Bulge main event on Saturday. It might have been more but I can't count over 50, so lets say that.

Tigger warning - Edgy UE humour alert

Saturday was the high point of our playing prowess, in that we actually won a game! The fields were well kept with plenty of barricades and natural cover. The ground was mostly clear with no spiky bits to skewer unsuspecting players. There was a field with trenches, I think it was called... The Trenches. One field was called minefield, although there were no actual mines. I complained to Gareth that he was in violation of the Trade description Act and he just looked at me blankly.

Other fields included a single facing fort/wall field. There was a slapstick field, which was very entertaining and painful. This was also a speedball field with one large mound (snicker) with a rotating scoring stick on top.

I'm not going to make excuses for our losses, so here are my excuses. The main problem for us as a team, despite being outnumbered (who doesn't love a target rich environment) was field knowledge. The other team had some marshals and walkon regulars who knew the points to quickly advance to on game-on. They knew where the angles of the field were and where the sweet spots are.

This put us on the back foot quite a bit. Being the Germans, this was entirely historically accurate and why we did it. Realism is everything to UE, not winning.

Our one skillful win was on the field with the buildings around the mid point. Let's call that field 'Village' despite a lack of post office, Tory support and pro-Brexit posters. Turns out this 'mid point' was closer to one spawn point than the other, from the break. So when we took the 'middle', kudos to us, we had to run and everything to reach it, the remaining field was a bit of a bottle neck and all but unassailable.

It was rather telling that when we switched sides despite some concerted effort bordering on teamwork by UE, we could not push the left flank at all. Mrs Fembo and Fembo got far forward but were crossfired out each time, despite aggressive plays. Other UE highlights were a good active game on slapstick and what is now a UE tradition; Ricktion was shot out 'accidentally' by his own team. On the plus side I believe this only happened twice the entire weekend which must be some sort of new record.

Saturday Night

Saturday I had agreed to attend a family do with Soaps sister's birthday party about 30 mins away in Reigate. The team was in town, I can't leave them... except for when I do. In a late Friday night, flash of genius/stupidity I thought, I'll ask for an invite for everyone, what could possibly go wrong?

While the rest of UE went for a curry, I met my wife and started priming her about the UE guys she was going to meet. She'd never shown one iota of interest before in paintball but was intrigued to finally meet the people I had wasted, I mean spent, so many weekends with.

I had primed her:

There's a vegan in there, you'll love them.

In fairness it took our resident vegan and chief propaganda comrade roughly 0 seconds before saying something rude. He sat down at the table finishing a story along the lines of:

So it turns out she had a full bottle of Magners up her vagina all along. Result!

Oh hello I'm Rick

I remember Fembo smiling at my wife with a look that managed to encompass dismay, encouragement and embarrassment all in one. Mrs Fembo just put his face in his hands, while Rob was sitting back, grinning and enjoying the show. Despite that, great evening. Fun was had. Everyone was very well behaved as far as I know.

The louder part of UE left at around 10ish, stealing Pimms on the way out. They all hopped into a taxi, travelling back to Driver Wood where there was a sausage party.

Class war - UE fight the power via pimms theft

Anyway, the wife thought you UE were a great laugh and is glad I have 'my little paintball friends'. Condescension is flattery, lap it up.


The day started wwith an intense fort game that was very enjoyable and close range (ouchy Charlie). The fort itself was most sensibly attacked from behind or even more sensibly left right alone, by having a cup of tea in the safe zone instead. Neither option was allowed and we had to do a full frontal. Steady now.

So; pointless suicide rushes into loads of guns? Where's Soap when you need him?

The field was 20 yards or so in width, 18 metres if you want to be French. With a wall covering virtually the entire width and a smaller first floor, second floor if you want to be American. There were some windows and unbeknownst to us some holes and slits in the wooden palisade. When we were attacking we got an excellent position a few yards from the fort wall. Hidden behind (unbranded this time) shields we expertly deployed a few flashbangs. Unfortunately these were deployed well short the enemy position. Ooops.

Ok one limp wristed throw was from me, the other shall be nameless. (It was Rocket).

We couldn't see where they were shooting from, no heads popping up. The little rats were shooting through the barrier. One by one, when the infinite respawn timer ran out, we were picked off. It was an exciting game though.

When the tables were turned we got to defend. The slight problem was the attackers knew where these little peep holes were and blasted them with abandon. In fairness they had some excellent runners that sprinted down the side at the end. Being it was really a wall and not a fort, it meant they opened up the flank for a good bukake. Result another loss, but an exciting one.

Next was honestly a waste of a game that had our team starting on the slapstick field. The enemy immediately rushed to the fort, which was the only access point into the remaining 3/4 of the game. The choke point was a few metres in width and the reds held the fort giving them elevation too. There was no other point of access. This all happened from the start gun. For the first ten minutes the opposition could even fire into slapstick through netting holes until it was marshalled unfair. Basically we were the fish being bitch slapped in the barrel. This game smacked of very poor balancing. Somehow Rob managed to evaporate into enemy lines and cap some fools. For everyone else it was a disappointing game and we're all writing to our local MPs and the Daily Mail about it.

The Sunday afternoon's paintball was a bit disappointing to be honest. There were some good games though, but after lunchtime the teams started to go from unbalanced to Rorke's Drift. We were just getting bullied into our spawn zone. I called my mum from the safe zone and had a bit of a cry.

Last game of the day. Rocket came up with an excellent plan to outflank the enemy and led the UE contingent of Fembo, Mrs Fembo, Ricktion and I, to the right, out wide. Sadly we were so outnumbered by this stage a wave of players caught us mid run. Yes, we were actually running into position which made it a bitter pill to swallow. Everyone was caught out of place and without enough cover we were annihilated. Although for the second time Rob seemed to disappear from view and avoid being nailed. I'm sure he has some sort of predator cloak thing. It isn't natural and it isn't right.

From this point onwards the Fembos and I were pinned in our spawn point, literally behind the start netting. A few charges that achieved nothing, we returned to the safe zone and called it a day.

It was a good weekend of paintballing and Gareth has made a great effort with his site. There can't be many sites in the UK that have such a well maintained, clean and large safe area, even if it is periodically on fire. It really was very impressive, credit to him for working so hard to bring it all together.

When we signed up, I did think it was on the understanding that the fields would all be opened up into one great big playing area. Which as per urban events, is what we're used to playing on. I can totally understand why this wasn't done as much of the netting was permanently fixed. The problem with this however, was that most games became a single line of combat, a single front. The paintball was head to head as the two lines clashed. Personally that isn't really the sort of paintball I enjoy as it doesn't leave much room to move. That's why the urban events have been so exciting, it isn't just the buildings, there is always an open flank or a new area to push. Team co-ordination can be rewarded if you get enough bodies to a position and flank. I think if Gareth can bring on more fields and truly open up the area it would make for more exciting objective based play. He certainly has the safe zone capacity to host a huge event. But that's just my two pennies worth, or 17 Lipa if you're Croatian.