Updated: November 19, 2021
For how long could an infantry squad hold, if an infantry squad was told to hold? This is a question best answered through some rigorous combat simulation. If you're in need of chakra cleansing, say after a whole day of IT meetings where people regurgitate buzzwords like majestic pelicans spitting out broken bits of turtle shell, then [CO16] Holdout Vanilla (nothing to do with taste or icecream) is the scenario you want.
The premise is very simple - you hold, for as long as you can, against ever-growing numbers of enemy soldiers. They come in wave after relentless wave, until your CPU crawls to a halt, your GPU surrenders, and you are totally overwhelmed by the foe. A mission with no happy ending - no ending at all. Sounds defeatist and possibly frustrating, but it's in fact a superb cure to IT malaises. After me.
The mission is designed in a rather clever way. First, you can decide where you want to defend. The whole of Altis is at your disposal. Second, you also need to configure the four spawn points for enemy troops. You can put them as close to your hold position as you like, or much farther away - but not as far as having to wait for hours until the enemy really shows up at your base. Similarly, putting the enemy too close will make things spiral out of control too quickly.
Until you start the mission, you can stock up at the Virtual Arsenal box - and pre-configure (save) loadouts for later in the game. This is important, because this allows you to "respawn" over and over, and come back to the mission with a fresh loadout without wasting time. Later on, as the attacks intensify, you will need to be fast. More on this soon.
Another critical choice - where do you defend? We figured an isolated tower on the east coast of the island makes for the best choice. It only has one approach (from the west), so you don't need to worry about the enemies flanking you. Ergo, chokepoint. Ergo, fun, as I shall shortly demonstrate.
Anyway, I tried playing the scenario with one friend, and then later, with two and three friends. We spent a bit of time thinking, how can we fortify our base so that we survive for as long as possible? We figured the ultimate answer to all combat problems: fireeeee powerrrrrr.
We figured that we'd create an impregnable fortress. That meant:
- Laying down belt after belt of anti-personnel mines.
- Laying down M6 directional anti-tank mines on the road to stop incoming MRAPs.
- Assembling 4-5 Mk.6 mortars (each with a complement of 40 HE rounds) behind HESCO bastions at our selected position.
- Assembling grenade launchers on the pier next to the tower, so we can cover the entire approach.
- Bringing multiple loads of different weapons and placing them around and inside the tower, including sniper rifles, machine guns, anti-tank rocket launchers, first aid kits, and more.
And this is where the saved loadouts come super handy. Once the mission starts, based on where you put the enemy spawn points in relation to your hold position, you'll probably have 5-15 minutes to prepare before the action starts. This means every second counts.
We divided the work among us. One person would bring in mines and put them down in the field in front of the tower. Another person would carry ammunition and rifles into the tower and leave them on the first and second floor. Once you complete this task, respawn, wait 10 seconds, quickly load another pre-saved loadout, and come back with the new stuff. Repeat.
In the end, each time, we managed to set up& super-impressive defensive layouts, with multiple mortars and grenade launchers, some 100-odd mines, half a dozen machine guns and rocket launchers, and then some. Having more people helps of course, because one person can suppress the enemy while the rest can continue beefing up the defenses. At some point, the fighting becomes so intense that everyone needs to participate in combat.
Tonight, we dine in our kitchen, comfortably rested playing the game.
Anyway, we set up, and soon enough, the first enemy wave was upon us. Easily stopped. A second wave. No worries. For a while, with TWS-equipped 12.7mm snipers and scoped Navids and LIM-85s, we were able to pick off the enemy soldiers at 600-700 meters distance easily, without them ever coming close to threaten us. Then, vehicles started showing up, blasting down the road at full speed.
The road-laid M6 mines did their magic. We also discovered, after some trial and error, that it is best to just disable the MRAPs rather than destroy them (e.g.: with a PCML), because burnt husks disappear, whereas damaged vehicles remain, blocking the road, and making it harder for other vehicles to get past. Also, you can hop into disabled cars, and if their GMG turrets are still usable, you can then direct the awesome firepower back at the enemy.
The soldiers kept on coming, and soon, we had to concentrate hard. When the enemy presence became too hot to handle, one of us would sprint down off the tower, get "into" a 82mm mortar and lob a handful of shells at the enemy positions, thinning out the incoming volleys. One by one, we'd deplete the 40-round packs, and if there was a brief lull in the fighting, one of us would leg it (spiritually) back to spawn, grab a fresh mortar loadout, and come back.
An hour or two into the fray, the road in front of the tower was littered with some dozen wrecks. Now and then, a soldier would sneak past our defenses and then remove himself from the roster by triggering an AP mine. We found ourselves burning through a Bergenful of Navid or LIM-85 rounds in just a minute or two. We soon ran out of MAAWS and PCML rounds. The noise became so intense I had to lower the volume for my headset.
The enemy managed to destroy the tower once or twice, and we were forced to fight on the ground. But we still managed to hold [sic], quite impressively. The bowel needs, food needs, and sheer time pressure ended each of the missions for us, be it as a pair or a four-man squad. We also improved, becoming more efficient and streamlined in our teamwork - a good exercise, mind - and also much more aggressive.
We stayed, de facto, undefeated.& Our tally was quite impressive. Ridiculous by any realistic standard, of course, but impressive nonetheless. For a mission designed to be silly, we did extremely silly. So much relaxation!
The answer to how long we could survive remains unanswered. We'd probably need to set up a six-hour session, and then make sure we have enough time, patience, food, and stamina to play for that long uninterrupted. But I'm quite confident we could manage that, maybe even rack up 1,000 kills. At the moment, with around& 2.5 hours of playing and some& 600 kills (as our longest and most effective session), we have a solid winning formula, even though we fully know that there's no winning this mission.
Sheer nonsense and childish pow-pow aside, Hold Vanilla is actually a great exercise in teamwork. It requires tight coordination and discipline. We figured that accounts for more success than all the different fine weapons we brought with us, although those play a major part, too. Take that, work team building classes, ha! And so, if you're an ArmA 3 person, and you crave an unsolvable challenge, this scenario probably has everything you need to feel happy and frustrated, at the same time. A perfect combo. Oh, there's a zombie version of this map, too, in case you're wondering.