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May maneuvers chronology. How good habits turn into traditions

It’s no secret that May maneuvers is an annually held festival that brings together hundreds of people who love and respect tactical games. A short time ago, an event of this level was unthinkable, for the term “laser tag” came across as foreign and bizarre. It’s not only that now the International laser tag tournament has a huge educational base. It’s rather about the change in players’ perception and their attitude to tactical games.

In November last year, the Russian Minister of Defence Sergey Shoygu demonstrated the application of laser tag in the army. He emphasized its safety and the significant savings that are achieved when it is used to train soldiers and officers combat skills. He also pointed out that Russia has become the world leader in this field.

Students and school pupils who regularly play laser tag shoot well while saving ammunition, can disguise themselves well, actively move around a battlefield, are ready to sacrifice themselves for their team’s success. They can determine precisely the distance and the time that is required to cover that distance. They master optical and collimator sights handling. Experienced players can fight head-to-head against fighters of antiterrorist forces. They gain experience and skills, which not many young people that have done the compulsory military service have.

A great number of clubs, polygons, laser tag federations that hold big tournaments, competitions, championships has been created. One of the most massive events – May maneuvers – was successfully organized. That played a significant part in the formation of Russian and international laser tag community.

If you have missed previous years’ events, we have compiled a chronology of International laser tag tournaments specially for you. Watching the progress of the festival is always exciting. Therefore, we hope that our interest will be shared by those who haven’t yet decided on whether to visit the May maneuvers or not.

May maneuvers 2012

Date: 6 – 8 May

Number of participants: about 100 people

Most commonly, large laser tag competitions are timed to important historical events or are based on them. This way, it is easier to develop scenarios. Besides, players get more interested in them: any combat operation can be reproduced; one can put himself in the shoes of a soldier from a real squadron or a whole army; or at least remember (or even rediscover) history. We must remember that laser tag is first and foremost a MilSim style game (military simulation). Much of it – including scenarios, rules, surroundings – has been created with subject matter in mind. The May maneuvers were launched in 2012. It was then that the V.I.K.I.N.G tactical laser tag club in Smolensk built a camp with fortifications, organized “swallows’ nests” for snipers and held three-day game battles. There were night battles, airdrop incursions, enemy’s flag capture, blowing up arsenal. That was the first event of its kind, yet even then the participants had a chance to evaluate the quality of the maneuvers and the style of the game itself. Game organizers ensured that safety rules were adhered to. There was a field kitchen on the polygon, and fresh water was available. The participants were accommodated in field conditions. 2012 became the turning point in the development of May maneuvers. It became clear then what mistakes had to be avoided when holding such events, and what would have to be given particular attention.

May maneuvers 2013

Date: 2 – 4 May

Number of participants: about 250 people

May maneuvers 2013 were held in the Mokshino village, Tverskaya oblast for 2 days. There were twice as many participants as during the previous event. Besides the battles that were held during the day, there were night maneuvers, too (anyway, players did not have to take part in them. Therefore, many players were having rest after the active daytime activities). The vast polygon area invited a variety of tactical actions and maneuvers. Time passed at a speed of an infrared shot, but the impressions stayed with the players for the whole year – until the following May event. Many of those who participated in all the May maneuvers think that the event held in 2013 set the standard for both the game process and the service quality. As the participants were leaving the festival, they were eager to participate in a grudge match, discuss laser tag news, meet up with the like-minded fellows again during the following event in 2014.

May maneuvers 2014

Date: 1 – 3 May

Number of participants: about 490 people

The competitions that are held can be of various levels: club, city, district, country and international. As a rule, small club level tournaments develop into large-scale competitions. There is no doubt that all teams and all organizers of competitions dream to participate in international level events. Anyway, regional and country level tournaments are huge events, too. Organizers’ competence must correspond to the level of the event. For 50 to 1500 people come to take part in the battles. The games must be properly organized and thought out. Players must receive all the necessary equipment. Due attention must be given to certain things that are considered by many as insignificant, such as where to accommodate teams, how to create comfortable conditions for the participants, as well as taking care of food and beverages. Far from everyone can take this on.

In 2014, LASERWAR became the sole organizer of May maneuvers that took place on the Alabino polygon in the Moskow oblast. This large-scale event surpassed common games and neared real combat atmosphere, not least due to the unexpected mishaps. The participants were put through a real test: there were real armoured vehicles on the polygon, the battlefield covered a vast territory, the connection was lost (the radio connection broke), we kept running out of firewood and water supplies, the field kitchen failed… Not to say about a scenario disruption during the first day due to armoured vehicles failure. Some may say that’s what real milsim is all about and one shouldn’t complain. While others have bitter memories about the harsh conditions. Nevertheless, it is a well-known fact that those who do nothing make no mistakes. The organizers managed to turn the tide. As a result, the players were left with lots of positive emotions by the end of day two: every participant took a ride at an armoured personnel vehicle, effected a landing at the enemy’s fortified areas, participated in blocking of armoured vehicles guards. A lot of families participated in the games. The players came from over thirty Russian cities and from the neighbouring CIS countries.

May maneuvers 2015

Date: 1 – 3 May

Number of participants: about 350 people

The games climaxed in 2015. Over 350 players from 7 world countries dipped into the atmosphere of a local armed conflict between the supporters and opponents of forced democracy introduction in the imaginary city of Mok.

May, 1 was notable for the first armed encounters. Each of the two parties executed two orders of the commander.        

On the 2nd and 3d of May, the conflict escalated to an open confrontation. The North Confederacy and the South Republic deployed a support military base, established a hospital, military headquarters, a surveilance unit, exerted psychological and information influence on the enemy, held an information war with the aim to receive loyal support from the local population, gained control over the territory of the city, equipped a “scientific laboratory” and a “switching centre”, overthrew and protected the south wing government.  

The participants got especially excited during the night phase. Then, surveillance units and spies were ordered to search for “crash pilots”, to safeguard the base and blow up enemy’s strong points.

Besides the military scenario game, a tournament was held on May, 1. 16 professional teams participated in it. On a specially built 150 by 70 metre field the participants gained temporary hold of the checkpoint that functioned as computer “capture points” and automatically registered the holing time. The Moscow “Scythians” team won out.

The lodging options that were offered to the players varied from a camp with free tents to a hostel. Each participant (there were around 350 people) found a place to stay without any trouble. Besides, the organizers reconsidered and rectified a number of previously made mistakes that concerned food and game process. In the previous year in Alabino, there was a huge problem with food provision. In 2015, as had been promised, the field kitchen was well-organized and the players were served with nutritious tasty meals.

The regulations, the scenario and game settings were published in the internet approximately a month before the tournament. While there were hardly any inquiries about the scenario, equipment set up raised lots of questions and created numerous discussions, which went on up to the end of April. It only became clear in the process that the suggested technical and tactical characteristics were not just ideal for the game – they were likely to set the standard for all big laser tag maneuvers.

Owing to the excellent job done by the organizers, these three days swiftly flew by. During the last day, there were more talks among the players that it would be a good idea to get together in Mokshino again the following year. Besides, the organizers promised to hold the game at an even bigger territory.

May maneuvers 2016

Date: 1 – 3 May

Number of participants: 519 people

In 2016, all the players got together again on the Alabino tank polygon. The come back was a success: the number of participants reached a 519 mark. A new form of Hunger games was tried out, a tournament was held. 42 teams took part in it. None of the members of the 2016 tournament organization group could have hoped for such outstanding results, for the event may not have happened. We were refused third-party organizers’ support we had relied upon. Therefore, 2 months before the start of the maneuvers, we had to take a strong decision – we concluded to hold the maneuvers on our own.

We succeeded in achieving this task. Compared to 2014, we didn’t have problems with food, water, space for a camp: all the players remained happy with the level at which everything had been organized. As to the scenario game, an interactive system of game objects capture was used in it, and players’ achievements were registered on mlt2016.ru. The final result was drawn from the individual achievement figures of players of every team.

The special feature of the competitions held in Alabino is the equipment. In that respect, the 2016 International laser tag tournament became no exception. The BTR, T-72 armoured vehicles provided excellent support to the players by serving as hide outs for small groups in violent battles. Certainly, there were sabotage attacks, surveillance operations, holding one’s positions. What did those all look like? You will find the answer in our annual video report.

May maneuvers 2017

Date: 6 – 9 May

Number of participants: 458 people

The year of 2017 became notable for a new play field where the game was held. Laser tag fighters from different cities and countries came to the game area of a Top Gun club. 458 people got into an uncompromising laser tag confrontation.

The 2017 May maneuvers became the first sports tournament that complied with the rules of the Russian federation of sports laser tag. The high standard of organization and refereeing was highly appreciated by the participants. 38 teams took part. The winners were rewarded by cups, Certificates of Merit and LASERWAR branded products.

The scenario unfolded around a fresh water conflict. The armed forces of Libya and a PMC attempted to achieve objectives on the territory of an improvised state. The PMC forces came out winners having achieved the set out objective.

The organizers of the 2017 MLT set a high standard of players welfare service. Comfort was not just an extra option. The May Maneuvers has remained the biggest laser tag event for years now. It has been recognized as an event that unites everyone under one flag. This event is open to everyone: it does not matter how old you are and what the make of your equipment is. Every participant comes to the MLT, first and foremost, for emotions, for its friendly atmosphere, for the opportunity to become part of the history of this incredible event.

What will the next year festival be like? It will certainly be held on a large polygon, and there are going to be violent battles and exciting scenarios. In 2017, we are planning to have the highest number of participants ever. LASERWAR will have prizes for every participant and will present new products. We are looking forward to gather together again next year!

May maneuvers is not just a game. It is the first fundamental event that brings together hundreds of players every year. It has its own traditions, culture, followers and community. Year by year, LASERWAR keeps building up this community, and contributes to forming the rules and code of conduct for such events. Sometimes we look back and remember with a smile where it all began. We do our best to ensure that you, dear players, always got positive emotions from such events. It is great to realize that all this time you have stayed with us and that we not only acquired new customers during these years, but also real friends. We will strive to live up to the standard we have set.