Hong Kong war games soldiers prepare for Battle of the Bulge simulation in Tuen Mun
Two teams of 80 will each take turns delivering prop tanks to point ‘Antwerp’ and defending their position for 45 minutes in annual airsoft event
The second world war’s Battle of the Bulge comes to Hong Kong this month with 160 war games enthusiasts signed up for the annual airsoft event in Tuen Mun.
Organised by Hong Kong company Day Army, the January 28 simulation will feature two teams of 80 soldiers carrying airsoft weapons and trying to replicate the battle that marked Germany’s last major offensive on the Western Front from December 1944 to January 1945.
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“This is an annual event and we try as best as we can to ensure we replicate major battles from the past at around the same time of the year at which they actually occurred,” said Day Army’s Justin Lau.
“War games in Hong Kong is growing in popularity. In 2016, on average we would have 80 players for an event but now it's up to about 150. The Battle of the Bulge event is almost full up.”
The January event is an entry level, “mission-based” competition in which each team must attempt to complete a fixed objective. The mission is for one team to deliver a number of prop tanks to point “Antwerp” and defend it until the end of the game, which lasts for 45 minutes. The roles are reversed for the next round.
Warm-up exercises and shooting games are held before the main event. Players enrol as individuals or teams and can either pick their own sides or are assigned to teams by organisers.
“We try to assign teams as evenly as possible for a fair competition with the assistance of basic data science and performances in previous games,” said Lau.
Hong Kong has one of the most active war games communities in the world and have players who regularly compete in overseas competitions, such as the biennial tournament in Moscow Russia held in the autumn.
Day Army’s biggest event of the year is in June when teams simulate the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, known as D Day and which took place on June 6, 1944.
The Battle of the Bulge has attracted several expatriates based in Hong Kong, including from Thailand, Nepal, Australia and the mainland.
“It is estimated that there are 50,000 airsoft players living in Hong Kong, more than any state of America and most countries in Europe,” said Lau.
“Despite the land problem, we have strong demand and a strong reputation as a global airsoft capital. We have the ability to stage 4,000 plus-scale games in the future and we are hoping that stakeholders in the war games industry in Hong Kong can get together and make it happen.”
The Armored War event in Moscow attracts more than 4,000 participants and the games are played over a land area the size of Kowloon.
Lau was part of a Hong Kong team who took part in last year’s Moscow event, in which they performed admirably as special operatives.
This month’s event will see participants using airsoft equivalents of real second world war weapons.
Hong Kong is well known as a producer of quality airsoft weapons while Taiwan is also gaining a strong reputation for making realistic replicas.
Weapons produced by Hong Kong companies include AK47, M4A1, the Israeli TAR-21 and British L85 and SLR. Instead of real bullets, the airsoft guns fire plastic pellets propelled by electricity or compressed gas.