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Difference between Skirmish, MilSim & SpeedSoft [Airsoft Game-types]

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Intro

Maybe you’re completely new to Airsoft. Maybe you’re a veteran that’s played for many years but only stuck to one game type. Maybe you’ve heard of alternative Airsoft game modes online and you’re wondering what they’re all about? Well, we have decided to ask current Airsoft players and organisers to help us define each type and provide you with a detailed breakdown of the three most popular modes amongst the Airsoft community: Skirmish, MilSim and Speesoft!

Skirmish

What is it?

Most likely you have already played a Skirmish or two; if not, this will probably be your first Airsoft experience. The reason being, this is the most popular game type that most sites run on weekends and is a great way for new players to get introduced to the sport. It’s the most simplistic and beginner friendly type of play; a variety of games are played throughout the day which makes sure that there are no stale moments and everyone is constantly active throughout.

Callsign_Opie, a fellow Equal Airsoft ambassador, describes Skirmish as:

“A single day of set game modes and objectives. The game modes can be of any type so long as they last about an hour and with a 10 minute break before the next game to allow players to reload etc. ”

We also asked Callsign_Opie how he would describe the difference between a Skirmish and other game types, such as MilSim and Speedsoft to a new player and his response was:

Skirmishes are purely a one day event with multiple game modes throughout the day that provide definitive confirmation of which side won each game.

MilSim can last 2 days or even longer with strict rules on what type of kit you can wear/use, how much ammo you can carry and with a strong emphasis on objective based gaming that can last all day, or even the entirety of the weekend. They are purely focused on trying to mimic what being in the armed forces is like.

Speedsoft is the new kid on the block for Airsoft and bridges the gap between high speed competitive shooting and skirmishes. The idea is to run light, fast and take out as many of the opposition as possible to win the game, a very marmite type of airsofting.”

So lastly, we asked him – “What is the goal that the skirmish community is trying to achieve for the sport?”

“Skirmishes are the perfect way to encourage new people to enjoy our hobby! They are very easy and relaxed for people to get involved; including all ages and genders.

They allow you to play with what you already own and can be a cheap way to have a good “de-stress” from a week’s work by running around like you’re in ‘Call of Duty’!

We’re all on the field to have a good laugh!”

Equipment

Rentals: £30 – £50

  • Boots
  • Money for more BBs and food
  • Food if you don’t plan on buying any there or if they don’t have something like a burger van

Walk-Ons: £10 – £30

  • Boots
  • Usual Kit (Plate Carrier, BBs, Face and Eye Pro, Pyro, Batteries, etc)
  • RIF
  • Money
  • Torch (Maybe depends on the site)

Skirmish

What to expect on the day

If you already own some gear, replica, radio etc.; make sure that all of your kit is packed and your batteries charged the night before. I also suggest you bring a little bit of extra cash in case you need to buy some food or extra BBs during the day.

Most games start at around 10am, we suggest you get there at least an hour before to make sure you can find yourself a suitable space to unpack your gear and get ready. You will most likely be asked to pay the rest of the game fee and fill in an insurance waiver as you come to the site; if you hired a gun you will be given one then or just before the safety brief.

Safety briefs will become standard once you’ve had a few games under your belt as most sites follow quite similar rules with few exceptions. Make sure you don’t talk through the briefing and pay attention to the details to ensure an enjoyable experience.

“Five more minutes and back for game brief!”

First games are usually short and designed to show you the playable area, medic rules and get players warmed up for the day. The types of games you can normally expect to see during the day can include: ‘Team Deathmatch’, ‘Conquest’, ‘Capture the Flag’, ‘Capture the Bomb’, ‘Search and Destroy’, ‘Hostage Rescue’, ‘Capture the VIP’, ‘Capture the Hill’ and simple Attack/Defend scenarios.

Most days will last till 4/5pm with an hour lunch break in between; usually between 12-1pm.  Make sure to get yourself hydrated and get some food during that time. Some sites might offer food in the price of the package, some might not sell any food at all. Therefore, if you are diabetic or have any specific food requirements, make sure to speak to the organisers beforehand or simply bring packed lunch.

Milsim

What is it?

Going by its name, MilSim simply translates to ‘Military Simulation’ and is an immersive game mode created with Realistic Rules of Engagement (RoE) in mind. It was made to resemble real-life scenarios such as operations, patrols or guard duty where you can go hours without firing your RIF and instead indulge yourself into the military experience. Each player is assigned a specific role and has to stick to his/her responsibilities throughout the day.

However, Matt over at Stirling Airsoft (UK’s Leading Milsim Airsoft Events) had a slightly more flexible idea when answering our question – “What is MilSim?”

“MilSim has no definitive definition! Everyone’s perception of what Milsim is – is different. Standard mags; medic rules; how the organisers decide to immerse the players. The list is endless depending on individual’s point of view.”

Subsequently, as most aspects in Airsoft, it all comes down to perception. However, the best MilSim organisations will ensure to provide their customers a well balanced and enjoyable experience throughout the day. The objectives should be engaging, immersive and ensure that no player is stranded somewhere; for no reason; without any action.

MilSim Ambush at Night

MilSim Vs Skirmish

At this point you might be wondering what is the major difference between MilSim and a Sunday Skirmish and which one you might prefer. For me, it boils down to MilSim being a lot more immersive due to the scenarios being heavily based on real life along with the extended length and intensity of each objective and mission. Matt certainly agreed with a similar outlook:

“The difference is purely the mindset of the player; as in, what they want out of a game. Players are no better or worse, just differ in how they want to play the game. MilSim is centred around immersion rather than the shooting, that becomes a by-product.”

He went on to add a general summary of what MilSim is really about, and I don’t think I could put it better in my own words; so here it is:

“Every company or organisation is different as to what they want to achieve; each style and game is the vision of the organiser. From using helicopters, ground vehicles or seaborne operations! All of which we have done. From good old shoot-em ups to long, slower paced games to high adrenaline door kicking CQB!

So what is MilSim? It’s a differing of opinion to what an individual wants from a game. But there’s a fine line between ultra-realism and still keeping it a game that is fluid and organic which we like to deliver; too staged or too scripted, we do not subscribe to that! Although, neither are right or wrong! Just a matter of vision that the players themselves respect and accept.

At the end of the day, we are all in it to have fun, play toy soldiers and immerse ourselves whether it’s capture the flag or hunting high-value targets!! It’s just a game!”

Sounds to me like MilSim events can greatly vary from each other in their immersion and atmosphere depending on the organisers’ vision and ideas. We recommend doing a bit of research on your chosen MilSim event to find out exactly what you need and what you might expect; also make sure to check reviews to ensure quality. Here are a few recommended MilSim events that always produce high quality fun:

Equipment

  • Boots
  • Camouflage specific to your chosen faction (Check event’s page for info)
  • Primary replica and side arm (preferably, also a back-up RIF if you have one)
  • Usual Kit: plate carrier, radio, helmet, BBs, gas, pyro, face and eye pro etc.
  • Torch
  • Food and Water
  • KFS (Knife, Fork, Spoon)
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Wash Kit (Baby wipes, tooth paste, tooth brush and some toilet roll)
  • Extra Cash in case you need to purchase more BBs, pyro etc.

What to expect on the day

So, your kit is packed, you’ve got everything you need from the above list, what happens next?

Normally you’re asked to arrive the night before; this is normally a Friday night around 5pm. Potentially, there might be arrival slots so make sure to double check with the provider. Once you’ve arrived, simply get all of your kit squared away then go and relax with other players; get a kip; wake up early the next morning and get ready for the day ahead of you.

Morning – time for the main brief followed by individual team briefs and then the game usually starts around 10am. If it’s a 24-hour MilSim event, the gameplay will carry on through the night, so it’s your prerogative to find time between 10am and 11pm to get some food and drink.

If your team doesn’t organise allocated slots for each squad to have a break during the day, the easiest way to do this is to look at the objective list and look for times where the least amount of points are at stake. This way you can make sure you and your squad will be there to support your team at more valuable objectives.

Furthermore, during a 24-hour MilSim, you and your team will work together through the night. Therefore, you will most likely set up a Harbour Area (Camp), organise Stag Duties (Camp Guard) and Patrols which will allow everyone to take turns in getting some shut eye.

For the non 24-hour events, games usually start early around 7am and finish at 11pm in the evening. Once “End-ex” is called, all players will return together for a final briefing/summary where you find out how the opposing teams have scored throughout the day.

Speedsoft

If you’ve been online and active in Facebook groups such as UK Airsoft Community (UKAC), Pew Pew Airsoft Community (PPAC) or the now closed Airsoft Addicts you’ve probably heard of the infamous Speedsoft.

Now, I’ll be honest, I frankly don’t understand the hate our community has towards it. At the end of the day, Airsoft is a game and we all have the right to play it however we want; be it in our jeans and hoodie, in full camouflage or in a paintball jersey and arm pads with a high speed SMG.

For this section of the article I reached out to my friend Bruno who plays for Legion who got me an interview with Robert Tyson the Captain Of Legion Airsoft Squad; a Speedsoft and Milsim competitive team which represented the UK at Battle Arena in 2019. Legion introduced SupAir to the UK’s SpeedSoft scene, which has now been picked up by both Retford and Nottingham, who look to run their own events this year.

I was also fortunate enough to speak to Harry McSwain, ‘The Godfather of UK Speedsoft’, aka Harribo and ask him some questions. Harry is the Team Captain of SCA (Steel City Airsoft) Which is a Yorkshire Based UK/US SpeedQB Team, the first person to bring Speedsoft to the UK and the Face of Speedsoft.

SpeedQB Tournament

What is it?

First of let’s start off with a little clarification of something which I wasn’t aware of before working on this article. Speedsoft offers two styles of games, SupAir and SpeedQB:

  • SupAir is Speedsoft using inflatable covers similar to paintball tournaments
  • SpeedQB is both indoor and outdoor CQB, often with wooden barricades for cover

When imagining SpeedSoft, most people think of Competitive Paintball with Airsoft Replicas; short Team Deathmatch games with bunch of guys trying to eliminate each other as quickly as possible whilst using inflatables for cover. This is somewhat accurate as SpeedSoft borrows some Paintball tournament structures which allows for intense competition. However, let’s see what Robert and Harry had to say about their own sport:

What is SpeedSoft and how would you explain/describe it to someone new to Airsoft?

“SpeedSoft is simply a form of expression within Airsoft. You’re not tied to wearing camouflage or realistic military gear, although you can. You get to play your type of game, wear what you want and shoot what you want. It’s fast. It’s aggressive. It’s fun.”

Robert Tyson

Harry also described SpeedSoft as expressive with more of a focus on the competitive aspect: 

“SpeedSoft is just another way to play Airsoft, but in a more sport-like fashion. Nothing more. SpeedSoft pulls away from the whole military simulation style and takes heavy influence from paintball gear, as it is designed for speed and durability. Speedsoft is mainly aggressive and uses tactics that are directly created from Airsoft rather than the real world military.”

Harry McSwain

SpeedSoft Vs Others

Now that we’ve covered what SpeedSoft is, let’s go into the difference between SpeedSoft and other game types. What stands out to me the most is the pace of the games, fitness levels required and rapid tactics to change the tide of the game. When asked about the differences, Robert said:

“If you’re talking directly about a SpeedSoft competitions, then I would say the adrenaline is the biggest difference. SpeedSoft events are fast paced with short games where just looking the wrong way can literally lose you the game. Your hyper focused every time you play!
Compared to a Sunday skirmish, where games are a lot longer with generally unlimited respawns so the risk of getting shot doesn’t sit in the front of your mind as much, and the day as a whole is a lot more relaxed.”

Whereas Harry described Skirmishing as the middle ground between SpeedSoft and Milsim and that MilSim events are focused purely on realism.

“Speedsoft and Milsim are two completely different groups despite playing the same sport, but I like to think of Skirmishers as the balance of the two. Milsim is all about realism, while Speedsoft is all about competition and winning.“

Sounds to me like SpeedSoft should be right at the heart of Airsoft community. Aggressive, fun and unrestricting! So why does it produce so much hate? This is a question I can’t answer; however, whether your new to Airsoft or like me have been playing for years, give SpeedSoft a chance before you jump on the hate bandwagon! You might even enjoy it!

Equipment

  • Comfortable boots/trainers
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Lightweight carrier rigs
  • Primary replica (preferably, also a back-up RIF if you have one)
  • Usual Kit: helmet, BBs, gas, face and eye pro etc.
  • Torch (Good for clearing rooms in CQB)
  • Extra Cash in case you need to purchase more BBs etc.

What to expect on the day?

But what does a Speedsoft day look like, well I asked Robert what a normal speedsoft competition day can look like.

“You start of like any other game type, packing all your gear and getting it ready for the competition; this sometimes means changing the ROF (Rate of fire) and/or the spring so that your RIF is within the competition’s FPS (Feet per second) limits.”

Once you arrive at the competition and your gear is ready to go, the day usually begins at 9am and starts with a ‘Captains Meeting’. This is where the team captains all get together with the marshals and receive all necessary information in regards to safety and game rules. The captains then go back to their teams and relay all information to their teammates.

It’s now time for the first game to start! Since SpeedSoft is a Team Vs Team game, not all teams will be playing at the same time. This is what the Pits are for; when you’re not playing, you will be in the Pit. This is a good time to catch up with friends from other teams, discuss tactics with your teammates and just generally get ready for your match. You also get chance to observe other teams playing which can be helpful when finalising tactics against specific teams and learning good routes around the map.

Similarly to a Skirmish, come 1pm, there is usually a lunch break for every and then the games continue till about 4-5pm. At the end of the day, all teams are called forward and the winners are announced; this is usually a time where teams also thank their sponsors and event organisers.

Summary

Skirmish

  • One day event (10am – 5pm)
  • Short games with brief intermittence for reloading and restocking
  • Good for new players
  • Cheap day out (Hire: £30 – £50 / Walk-On: £10 – £30)
  • Don’t need your own kit

Milsim

  • 12h – 72h events
  • Long and immersive games with non-stop objectives
  • Good for players seeking immersion
  • Can be expensive if you don’t already own camping kit etc.
  • You will need your own replica and gear

SpeedSoft

  • One day event (10am – 5pm)
  • Short Team Vs Team games in a structured competition
  • Good for both new and advanced players with a competitive edge
  • Similar prices to a Skirmish
  • You will need your own replica and gear

Written by Stephen Howe (Callsign: Viking)

Edited by Kamil Turecki

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