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"I can't wait to receive the trophy in the mail. You know the one that says "Sorriest Ass Starcraft Player on the Planet" "

Dispatch from the front: Bridge SE
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Date: 11/02/03 12:11
Game Type: Other
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Report Rating: 8.0, # of Ratings: 2, Max: 8, Min: 8
Lifetime Rating for tempus007: 7.3077

After careful consideration of comments and constructive (yes, it was constructive) criticism contained in the comments to the last report, I knew that I had to make something of myself, and to do it now. I began to play America's Army with wild abandon, taking enough screenshots to break the digitally abstract workings of my 35mm camera (though I must admit the grenade fragment to the lens did not help) and fighting terrorists across every inch of digitally represented Central Asia. Finally, however, the right battle presented itself in a remote, snowbound corner of the Caucasus Mountains.

Sit back and relax as the the sound of a frag grenade echoes in the canyon, bullets send puffs of snow into the air, and the muzzle flash of a nearby rifle indicates that the firefight has begun. You get to see it all from the safety of a computer screen, in a cushy chair with a cold drink in one hand and a bowl of popcorn on the table.

The featured map today is Bridge Crossing, second edition, or Bridge SE for short (you can see the first edition map in my previous report, here.) The second edition map has the same layout at first glance, but there are several crucial differences:

1) A trail runs south and east around the rim of the valley, allowing team assault to flank defenders. This usually forces the defense to split their forces between the bridge and the ridge trail.

2) Near both ends of the bridge are steep (but still negotiable) hills that lead down into the valley, allowing passage through the valley to both ends of the bridge. However, the passage through to the defense side ends in front of the defense positions most commonly used to hold the ridge trail, while on the assault side the trail ends well behind the lines. Bold defenders will sometimes sprint through the valley to get behind the attackers.

Above, highlighted in green are the paths through the valley and on the ridge. Defense positions behind the bridge are shaded red, and their approximate fields of fire are indicated by the red dotted lines. Assault positions on the ridge allow for grenadiers, SAWs, and snipers to send their respective munitions screaming toward the enemy; some lines of fire for snipers are shown. The defense usually takes two positions; one eastward to stop an assault team coming up the ridge path, and one north of the bridge which covers the defense half of the span. Any defenders who go to stop a push through the bridge can fall back to take up positions in the hills behind, or reinforce the south hill.

As I logged on to the server I saw that game 6 of a 7 game round was in progress, and that team assault was winning 4 games to 1. Naturally, I sided with defense. (Ha ha, just kidding). At some point, when I have become the AAO equivalent of the British SAS and have wiped out the rough equivalent of an entire brigade in accumulated kills, I might side with the underdog. Right now, I'm not stupid.

My buddies on the squad were a collection of scrapings from the most wretched hives of scum and villany in the United States; a prerequisite of which was to either serve either a) approximately forty liters of malt liquor per hour or b) approximately the same number of in-establishment fights in the same hour. Every one of them was capable of shooting you in the blink of an eye, stabbing you silently in the dark, or fixing a poker hand (this included beating the cut). In short: don't mess with them.

Some of the more colorful members of the squad are worth mentioning. We'll begin with Axion7. Axion came from the bayous and swamps of Cajun Country, a prime breeding ground for Marines. He grew up shooting .22 rifles at alligators from the back porch of his house, and as such became a crack shot. He's our sniper, and can drop a man from over a kilometer without flinching. He's tough as nails, and can weather any hardship, from crawling under barbed wire under fire to picking up a live enemy grenade and throwing it right back at them. Why he isn't in the Marines, no one knows, though dark rumors have been whispered in the company: a dark night of unknown, cold-blooded murders during manuevers at Paris Island, or a bad incident involving a few new recruits and a game of hot potato with a live grenade. Whatever it was, he came to us, and given his marksmanship that's probably not a bad thing.

Salvo_Salvotte graduated dead last in his class at West Point, but most of us don't hold it against him despite the fact that he has been demoted from second lieutenant to Staff Sergant. His strategy and tactics are pretty good, but he's just had a string of bad luck in the field (How were we supposed to know that the guys up ahead were B company when our radio was out? One little M203 grenade and all heck broke loose...) Despite recent murmurs of discontent, he's a strong squad leader.

Wolf1345 is the "blood and guts" of the squad: he's our frontal assault man. He's tough, capable of taking injury without complaint. He has difficulty, though, with getting a hit on a target, his temper under control, the point, and a steady girlfriend. Despite these faults, he's still an invaluable member of the squad.

celeritertace, war correspondent to, is a newcomer to the squad, who is proficient with both an M16A2 and a Canon 35mm with a 400x zoom lens. Charged with the task of getting news back home, he has a myriad array of talents ranging from being a passable sniper, photographer, and strategist, to being a combat medic and journalist. Being also a good-natured, friendly, incredible guy who attracts ladies like hummingbirds to a flower, he is also quite capable of lying through his teeth.

Our squad was coming back from patrol, with vital information concerning enemy strength and disposition, when we found our way back to our position blocked by an enemy squad. Unable to raise anyone due to the interference from the mountains, (stupid radio AGAIN) the information we posessed was nevertheless vital. We had to get across the bridge.

Move Out!

Round 7 began, and we were off. I decided to go around the ridge, sprinting across the snow-covered ground with my comrades. Eventually we reached the point where enemy contact usually took place, where the ridge trail met the path coming up from the valley.

The coordination was exquisite. A small group from the valley met up with us just as we hit the junction, and another element of our squad was putting pressure on the bridge, forcing the defense to spread out. As a buddy off to my right began firing, I crouched, whipped the pin off a grenade, yelled "frag out!" and hurled the grenade around a bend in the path. A few seconds later, an explosion sounded, and I was informed of my first kill of the round. How very nice.

Bolstered by this early success, I crawled forward, searching for a target for my rifle. Under the cover of a smokescreen, I advanced into a position under the boughs of a pine tree, which offered ready concealment. I squinted down my iron sights, searching for a target while bullets began to pop around me. Firing almost blind, I was hit over the head by a stroke of good luck when my bullets found an OPFOR soldier:

Unfortunately, my success was short-lived. Team defense, rising in wrath at my disposal of two loyal followers of the cause, pulled a loudly complaining grenadier from his bottle and sent him to blow our little assault force off the map. Unfortunately for them, he was a little tipsy from his 162-proof Vodka, which caused the grenade to miss by a matter of several yards. However, the near miss was close enough to send fragments of steel flying in my direction - and shrapnel wounds are no fun. I was bleeding and injured, and needed a medic. I pointedly notified my squadmates of the danger and tried to think of a way to take out the grenadier. But he had other ideas. A second grenade ended my combat life for the round.

My untimely death was not the end of the round, however. wolf1345 and another member of the squad were still alive and kicking, though not for long. While our attack on the ridge had at last been silenced by a salvo of 40mm grenades, the frontal assault on the bridge had been a bloodbath. In the final minutes of the game, wolf was shot as he crawled up the south defense hill. Meanwhile, on the defense side of the bridge, [KOD]The_Best engaged in a furious close-quarters fight with an enemy rifleman and brought him down - only to be blown up by a grenade. So ended the round, in an assault loss.

Match 2, Round 1: Excursion of the Bridge

For a change of pace, I decided to go across the bridge for the first game in a new round. I was now a fireteam leader, which gave me a pair of binoculars for special equipment. As I sprinted towards the south catwalk, I heard comm chatter that was encouraging: Not only did our brave squad leader salvo_salvotte have a plan, he was changing it to meet the enemy (hence our grenadier was going to the ridge) and people seemed to be cooperating. The general plan was that our snipers would go onto the bridge but we would not put much pressure there, for the main stroke would fall on the ridge. They were to pick off a few stray OPFOR soldiers and use their scopes to spot for the advancing group on the ridge. I decided to go with them.

I raced down the catwalk and reached the central ladder that led up to the main bridge deck, when I spotted a muzzle flash on the ridge - farther back than it was supposed to be. I brought up my binoculars and saw our men, who must have engaged advance elements of the enemy. Though first contact was taking place much farther back than it should have been (they were about 200 yards back on the trail) they weren't being killed outright. I put away my binoculars, grabbed my rifle, and climbed the ladder, heading to the central arch for its commanding field of fire.

As I reached the top, I spotted an enemy soldier on the tower stairs. From the prone position, I opened fire and... missed every shot. He ducked away, looking for a safer place to get down. I spotted another OPFOR on the south hill, but he was far out of range. However, the ridge team must have met with plenty of success in the intervening minutes, for as I was pondering what to do next, the round ended in victory.

Round 3: One Heckuva Fight

The third round of the new match was possibly the most interesting of all. I started out sprinting down the catwalk, racing onto the bridge, and pushing forward across the bridge under cover of smoke. I was almost at the defense tower arch, when I realized that I was far ahead of everyone else and was vulnerable to friendly fire or - being flanked. An OPFOR got behind me and gunned me down at hideously close range, giving me a hard tactical lesson: don't get drilled from behind.

Unfortunately, the rest of the squad seemed to be faring no better, as both the frontal assaults on the path and the bridge stalled under murderous fire. As the minutes ticked away, our hope of victory began to fade, as one by one we were picked off. Wolf1245 was killed as he led the assault up the path on the enemy- held Eastern Defense Hill. Salvo_Salvotte's death led to several self-deprecating comments. Meanwhile, only two soldiers in the squad were left alive.

[FTC]The_get_up_kid found himself all alone on the bridge and with way too much ground to cover. He was at the central arch, nervously eyeing the enemy half. Gulping in a breath, he turned around the column, heading to the other side of the bridge to check his flank. Unfortunately, he was checking the wrong one.

Now Axion7, our sniper, was all alone on the ridge, where he had been providing support fire to the now dead assault team. He alone could bring us victory. Unfortunately, a sniper rifle isn't exactly an assault weapon. It's kind of hard to aim at someone ten yards away with a 400-power scope, and the rate of fire approaches that of the days when firearms were shot by matches. Time was winding down, and Axion had a lot of ground to cover while being outnumbered at least three to one. Tough odds, huh? Do I have a story to tell you! Prepare yourselves for one of the saddest instances ever in America's Army:

The following images are graphic and may disturb some readers. The author of this report and the management of are not responsible for spontaneous convulsions, vague swear words uttered at the screen, cases of neurosis or psychosis, or involuntary destruction of whole computers elicited by this section.

Axion7 knew that he was the last man alive, and acted unlike so many others before him: he attacked. One of my pet peeves about America's Army games is that often the last man, seeing no hope, decides to just wait it out and try to get a kill before time runs out or he is shot. There are always two ways to win: comnpleting the objectives or killing everyone on the other team. Neither get accomplished if someone camps, worrying constantly about his or her flanks.

Luckily, Axion was made of the right stuff. He sprinted up the path, slowing as he reached the defense hill and leveling his sniper rifle at the enemy, despite the fact that his chances of survival were approximately that of a terrapin caught in a 3-way shootout between multiple Pirate, Federation, and Auroran carriers. Unfortunately, his bravery was to be in vain, as an OPFOR with an RPK appeared over the hill.

What happened next was just... disturbing. The RPK gunner opened up, sending scythes of bullets across the snow. Despite the fact that it was almost snowing lead, Axion... didn't die. The enemy soldier seemed to be hitting everything except him. To put it best:

The two continued to circle each other, Axion trying to get a shot off with his rifle. At last, the screen blanked and went to the score screen - we had lost. But the last surprise was yet to come. Axion's name was still green, which meant that he was still alive when the round ended. We had lost because we had run out of time, not because their gunner was any good.

Round 4: The Life of a Medic

Because I had been killed multiple times on the bridge, I decided to go ridge for the new round. I took up the usual position and threw a grenade at the enemy positions. Unfortunately, I was a little late, and my grenade found one of our own advancing soldiers.

While I was pondering the massive damage this incident would do to my score (and apologizing to the guy I had accidentally naded) the firefight around me erupted in earnest. Slowly, our guys advanced, though injuries were beginning to mount. Guided by my compass I found the first wounded man and proceeded to treat him.

Soon, another call came in from good old Axion 7 who had taken a bullet from his position farther back on the ridge, offering sniper support. I turned and sprinted to him, crouching and applying a bandage to the wound he had sustained. As I finished this, I decided to try to spot for the advancing fire teams when victory was announced. Those who had gone across the bridge must have, in an act of sheer lunacy, rushed across while overwhelming what resistance there was before sprinting to the objective. Well, who am I to complain? If anything, it will offset the huge point loss incurred by the grenade incident. Oh, well...

I'd like to say a few concluding wor- AAAGGHHHH!

Miscellaneous Information About the report:

  • Total number of rounds played: 8
  • Number of rounds my team won: 6
  • Number of screenshots taken for this report: 309
  • Approximate number of screenshots used: 25
  • Number of times I got shot, sniped, or blown up: 5
  • Number of times my camera got shot, sniped, or blown up: 31
  • Brand of Vodka that grenadier was drinking: Absolut
  • Number of digits left of the decimal point you should have in the report rating: 2

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