1 v 1 Interview with Archangel Mikel Warsaw Fulda Gap General
(DL) — We sit down to a 1 v 1 talk with Archangel Mikel, this year’s Fulda Gap Warsaw General. A well-known scenario player in the US, he now gets to hold the keys on Warsaw’s well-oiled machine. Time to go 1 v. 1 with him.
How long have you been playing paintball? How did you get into the sport?
AM: Well, I want to say my first time was 93-94? It was a friend that invited me on a church group outing. Had a blast and was hooked in short order!
What team are you playing with now, and where are you all based out of? What kinds of games do you all play, and how would you describe yourself as a player?
AM: I currently serve as co-captain of The Phantom Regiment out of Birmingham Alabama. It’s a multi-format team established in 1988. Over the years, the team has been involved in practically every style of play, from the days when stock class was the only class, to a modern tournament format, a scenario/big game crew, and a well-respected Magfed chapter as well.
Me personally, I see myself as a support player. It’s my job to see my teammates excel in their roles. Off-field, I coordinate logistics of getting my guys where they need to be for the game. On-field, I make sure they know what’s going on so they can be the most effective.
How did you get into scenarios? When did you first start playing them?
AM: It was within a few months of my first game and the field hosted an event and had sent out mailed flyers. I got the letter and the flyer a few months out and was set. I was a total noob, lol! No clue what was happening but I had a blast anyway!
How did you get into command positions in scenarios? Why did you decide to take on being a General for Warsaw at Fulda Gap?
AM: It really wasn’t a role I went looking for, more like it found me. I’d been networking with teams and event producers after taking on my position with my team. I had an opportunity to travel heavily one year and hit numerous games alongside some experienced game commanders who decided to invite me in the loop.
My first large event was as a legion commander at Living Legends 10. After that, more opportunities emerged. It seemed like the natural progression to take the roles to better serve my team.
When did you first play Fulda Gap? How did you find out about it? What brings you back each year? What are your favorite parts of the game, on or off the field?
AM: My first year was 2016, I fought on NATO side with the Wilsons as my Commanders. I’d known about the event for years before making the trip, but it hadn’t lined up for me until then. I love the structure and format. It’s less “off the cuff” than most but not as rigidly planned as other games I’d played. Plus Command Decisions has a simply fantastic field.
There are different kinds of commanding officers, those who lead out on the field and those that prefer to gather intel from their commanders in the field and direct from a base. Which do you prefer to do? How would you describe your command style? How does being a General for Fulda differ from other scenarios?
AM: Yes, there certainly are! For me, it depends on the scale. Ultimately the general needs to manage the information coming in and redirect it to his forces. The bigger the event, the more centralized the commander needs to be in order to utilize that information. Fulda Gap is definitely geared towards the latter style, as the scale is large. It is set up for a large command staff with unit command and division a pre-planned aspect integral to the event.
What do you think makes you a good General? What would you say your strengths are, and how do you help the team as a whole?
AM: Today, game Generals have numerous hats to wear. They serve as both promoters and marketers leading up to an event. They are coordinators between the players and event producers for months leading up to game day.
At game-on, it’s a matter of communication and prioritizing actions. Intel in, response out. My strength is that I’m a balanced jack-of-all-trades person. I have the ability to manage the pre-event aspect as well as the actual game day. Not by standing in front of everyone, but by helping the brilliant command team I have excel at their roles.
What do you look for indirect reports/commanders during games? What are you hoping that they can bring to the table?
AM: The Unit Commanders are my eyes and ears, they need to communicate regularly, and then give direction clearly to their units. The commanders I’m partnered with are some of the best out there, and I’m confident they will bring their best!
If you could speak directly to teams that are looking at going to play Fulda for the first time this year and are not sure which side to join, what would you say to them? Why should they join NATO?
AM: To first-timers I’d say, first look to see where familiar faces are around you. Paintball is as much social as competitive. If that doesn’t answer their question I’d assure them I can find a place and function for any kind and skill level of player. My inbox is always open and I’m glad to advise them on any aspect of the event!
What advice do you have for players coming to Fulda Gap for the first time?
AM: #1. Arrive early, and carpool as best as you can. #2. Pick up your paint as close to game on as you can. Valken does a great job of controlling conditions of storage. The temps swing significantly overnight every year, and paint at camp doesn’t fair well with that. #3. Know your unit commanders and teams. They will be keeping you in the action so stick with them. #4. Pace yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
If a player wants to learn more about NATO, or advice on which unit to join, how should they go about that for NATO?
AM: Any player can feel free to contact me directly via my Facebook messenger account! I encourage and welcome their questions. At this time I have cleared my game schedule almost entirely until Fulda to give it my full attention.
Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you would want to add?
AM: I want to take a second to encourage all players on both the Warsaw and NATO sides to be sure to plan for the Make-A-Wish raffle at the end of the event. Through that we can pass on the experience of a great time spent to others who deserve a great moment themselves! Save a few dollars each and pitch it towards the raffle.
Archangel Mikel brings up a great final point. Fulda Gap isn’t just a scenario game, but also a charity fundraiser for Make-A-Wish. If you go and can donate, it’s for a great cause. They usually have some nice stuff in the raffle too!
If you decide to go Commie at Fulda Gap, rest well knowing that Archangel Mikel is your Warsaw General. I’m looking forward to it myself, and to see how he decides to attack Jim Rost’s NATO crew this year. Sign up and get yourself down to Command Decisions Wargames Center this November, and I’ll see you there!